The Delhi high Court is likely to deliver its decision on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s pleas to stay the proceedings before a trial court in a criminal defamation case filed against him and other AAP leaders by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The latter had filed a criminal defamation complaint alleging that Kejriwal and 5 AAP leaders- Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai — had defamed him in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.
The case was filed on December 21, 2015 by Jaitley and sought the prosecution of the offences of the aforementioned AAP leaders and a punishment of up to two years in jail. The high court had reserved its verdict on July 25 on Kejriwal’s plea challenging the trial court’s May 19 order by which it had turned down the Delhi Chief Minister’s request to adjourn hearing on a criminal defamation case before it, till the high court decided a related civil suit.
According to Kejriwal’s plea, there are two cases–one civil and the other criminal–filed against AAP leaders on the same allegations and the trial court should have stayed the proceedings in the matter, but it had declined.
“The trial court judge had said that he has no power to stay the proceedings,” senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Kejriwal, had said during the arguments by quoting from the lower court’s order and had added, “Power to stay can be exercised by postponing the matter also”
Opposing the contention, senior advocates Harish Salve and Siddharth Luthra, representing Jaitley, had said that in “today’s world, the words used are more powerful than sword”.
Besides the criminal defamation case, Jaitley has also filed a civil defamation suit in the High Court seeking Rs 10 crore in damages from Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family in connection with alleged irregularities in DDCA when he was its president.