Pursuing his complaint, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today appeared in a Delhi court and said Arvind Kejriwal and five other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders have made “false and defamatory” statements and rejected the charge that he had siphoned out money from Delhi’s cricket body DDCA for his own benefit.
Recording his statement before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Sanjay Khanagwal in a 70-minute deposition, Jaitley, an eminent lawyer himself, dismissed all the allegations and said he had not received any money from anybody during his tenure as President of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).
He accused them of making statements damaging his reputation even after the complaint was filed against them and that their statements against him and his family members lowered his dignity in the eyes of the public at large.
Jaitley charged Kejriwal with making these allegations against him and his family members to deflect attention from CBI probe “against a particular civil servant” who is working with him.
He was apparently referring to the CBI raid in the Delhi Secretariat on the office of IAS officer Rajendra Kumar, who is Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary.
Jaitley referred to Twitter and Facebook posts of Kejriwal, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai and accused them of making statements that had damaged his reputation even after the defamation complaint was filed by him.
Jaitley said that Kejriwal’s statement that he received money when the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium was constructed during his tenure as the DDCA Chief, was false as the Board of Directors had constituted a committee to supervise the work and he was not a member of the supervisory committee.
“Between December 1999 and December 2013, I was the President of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). I discharged my function lawfully and with utmost integrity. During my entire tenure, I have not received directly or indirectly a single rupee from the (DDCA) association on any account whatsoever. I have not even charged any amount towards expenditure.
“A cricket stadium was built at Ferozshah Kotla during my tenure as President DDCA. The Executive Committee/Board of Directors of the DDCA had at the relevant time authorised a committee to supervise the constructions. Broad decisions came up before the board for approval. I was not a member of the committee charged with the construction/renovation of the stadium,” he said in his seven-page deposition.
Amidst tight security, Jaitley arrived in the court premises at 1:56 pm and entered the court room at 2 PM for the proceedings during which no media persons were allowed.
The court has now posted the matter for February 3 to record statements of other complainant witnesses in the case. It also recorded the statement of well-known journalist Rajat Sharma, who has appeared as a witness for Jaitley saying he was acquainted with him for over four decades and could vouch for his integrity and character.
Jaitley had on December 21 filed criminal defamation case against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders for allegedly defaming him and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of upto two years in jail.
In his statement, the minister said, “However, in my capacity as President DDCA, I used to chair the board meetings where only the important decisions were put up for approval before the Board/Executive Committee.
“The accounts of DDCA were always duly audited and were subsequently all approved by the Annual General Meeting of DDCA. These accounts were submitted before the taxation authorities and the balance sheets along with the annual report were filed with the Registrar of the Companies.”
During the recording of his statement, Jaitley said “the false imputations made by the accused persons in the tweets/ statements and in the press conference and Facebook and Twitter posts individually and collectively that money has been siphoned out in the construction of the stadium and the innuendo that I am a beneficiary of the same is per se false and defamatory to the knowledge of all the accused persons named by me in the complaint.”
“For financing the construction of the stadium, the DDCA had in advance sold the ticket for a period of ten years in corporate boxes to specified corporates and also sold the signage rights of certain parts of the stadium,” he said.
“Amounts received for the same by cheque were credited to the accounts of DDCA and as per my recollection, the same were used for funding the construction and other related functions of the DDCA,” he said.
He also refuted the allegations regarding his alleged association with M/S 21st Century Media Pvt Ltd saying it is a sports management company and had been professionally retained by DDCA for marketing the seats in corporate boxes and the signage for which they would have been paid professional fees.
“All these transactions are reflected in the audited accounts of the DDCA placed before the board and AGM. The imputation in the defamatory statements and materials exhibited and proved by me today that I or my family including my children had a pecuniary interest in the company are per se false and defamatory,” he said.
“Neither I nor my family member had either been a share holder/director nor had any fiduciary or pecuniary relationship with the company M/s 21st Century Media Pvt Ltd or its director Lokesh Sharma,” he said.
He urged the court to prosecute these AAP leaders as per the law.
“These defamatory allegation by A1 to A6 (AAP leaders) contained in material annexed to the complaint and set out in the complaint have been widely published and had irretrievably damaged my reputation and that of my family in the eyes of my friends, supporters and members of the public. As a result of these circumstances, I have filed the present complaint,” he said.
Jaitley told the court that the statements were made by the AAP leaders with “a malicious intention in order to lower my reputation amongst my friends, supporters and in the eyes of the right thinking members of the public at large.”
“Apart from this, the press statements and Twitter account which I proved and exhibited on record are full of false and defamatory imputations against me. These false and derogatory imputations were also telecast on news channels and daily newspapers which have in turn further damaged my reputation.
“The accused persons have further compounded the defamation by continuing to make allegations of similar nature even after December 20, 2015 and after the filing of this complaint,” he said.