New Delhi | The Delhi High Court today sought response of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders on a civil defamation suit filed against them by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Joint Registrar (JR) Kovai Venugopal issued notice to Kejriwal and other AAP leaders — Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai — on the suit by Jaitley seeking Rs 10 crore in damages for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family members. Issue notice to the defendants (AAP leaders). Written statements by the defandants be filed within three weeks. Thereafter, in two weeks’ time, the plaintiff (Jaitley) will file replication, the JR said.
The court also asked AAP convenor Kejriwal and other leaders of his party to file original documents related to the allegations levelled in the suit against them in one week. The JR fixed the matter for February 5, 2016 for admission/denial of documents.
While Kejriwal and Vishwas were not present in the high court, four of the AAP leaders — Ashutosh, Sanjay, Raghav and Deepak, attended the proceedings. Jaitley’s action comes in the backdrop of attacks on him by Kejriwal and other AAP leaders over alleged irregularities and financial bunglings in Delhi’s cricket body, Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), of which he was the president for about 13 years till 2013.
Jaitley has also filed a criminal defamation complaint before a trial court against Kejriwal and the five other AAP leaders for making false allegations about financial irregularities in DDCA. In a packed courtroom at the Patiala House courts complex yesterday, Jaitley, who was accompanied by a phalanx of union ministers, including M Venkaiah Naidu, Smriti Irani, Dharmendra Pradhan and J P Nadda, had alleged that AAP leaders have made completely baseless and defamatory allegations.
The court of the Chief Metroplitan Magistrate then took cognisance of the complaint and posted the case for January 5 when Jaitley will record his testimony.
During the hearing today, senior advocates Pratibha M Singh, Rajiv Nayar, Sandeep Sethi and advocate Anil Soni, appearing for Jaitley, told the JR that malicious and defamatory campaign was causing irreversible damage to him. All defendants individually and collectively have madethemselves liable to compensate the plaintiff for a sum of Rs 10 crore, they said, appealing to the court to pass a decree of damages against the defendants.
Meanwhile, AAP leaders, represented by senior advocate H S Phoolka, filed a caveat in the defamation suit and urged the court to expedite the hearing in the matter. In his suit, Jaitley said Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, with common intention, have from December 15 undertaken a false, malicious and defamatory campaign against him and his family members for political mileage causing irreversible damage to him.
It was done to deflect issues from an unrelated search during investigation by CBI of a bureaucrat in the secretariat of the Delhi government based on a complaint by a third party, he said.
The suit referred to some of the allegations made by AAP leaders in press conferences, including the one in which it was claimed that CBI raided the office of the Delhi government official looking for Jaitley’s tax scam files and that there was corruption worth several hundred crores under Jaitley’s tenure as DDCA president.
Jaitley said such statements have been made orally and through Twitter handle of the AAP leaders which have been carried by electronic and print media from December 15 to December 20.
Referring to the allegation to create an impression that Rs 57 crore were siphoned off in the reconstruction of Ferozeshah Kotla stadium, Jaitley said the truth was that this was one of the stadiums with modern facilities built in India for a most economical amount of Rs 114 crore.
Jaitley said on the contrary, the mere renovation of Jawaharlal Nehru stadium for Commonwealth Games 2010 had cost the government Rs 900 crore and renovation of Dhyanchand stadium was to the tune of Rs 600 crore. The plaintiff has always remained concerned about his reputation and credibility and has always conducted himself with utmost probity and integrity in each of his actions.
Even when the plaintiff was discharging functions as president of DDCA, he had never even imagined of taking any pecuniary advantage for himself or any of his family members. It is available on the records of the DDCA that what to talk of imagining taking of any pecuniary benefit, throughout his tenure as the president of DDCA, the plaintiff has not even taken legitimate reimbursement of his expenses from the DDCA, he said in his suit.
He further said, By all acts of omissions and commissions by the defendants, including making false, baseless, scandalous, malicious statements/allegations against the plaintiff, they have made themselves liable individually and collectively for the irreversible and unquantifiable damage caused to the plaintiff.
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