Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today told the Delhi High Court that there was no instruction from him to his counsel Ram Jethmalani to use objectionable remarks against Arun Jaitley in the defamation case filed by the Union Minister. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief also said that he has written a letter to Jethmalani to refute his claim that objectionable words were used in the proceedings before the Joint Registrar on May 17 as per his instructions. In his affidavit, Kejriwal said it was “inconceivable that he would even think of instructing the senior counsel to use such objectionable words.” The Chief Minister denied the charge of Jaitley that the questions with derogatory remarks were “clearly designed to insult and/or annoy” him. Kejriwal said that he has even instructed his counsel on record, Anupam Srivastava, to remind Jethmalani that no such instructions were issued to him in his meeting with him.
Jethmalani, during the May 17 proceedings, had claimed that the words were used by him in pursuance to instructions received from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo. “That with due respect it is submitted that neither the answering defendant (Kejriwal) nor the counsel briefing the senior counsel (Jethmalani) gave instructions to the senior counsel to use the objectionable words on May 17, 2017,” the affidavit filed before Justice Manmohan said. The cross-examination of Jaitley by Jethmalani on May 17 had witnessed heated exchanges between them.
Jaitley, who had filed the civil defamation suit claiming Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders, had filed another defamation suit of Rs 10 crore against the Chief Minister alone. Due to the May 17 incident, the proceedings in the first lawsuit had been adjourned till July 28.
The BJP leader filed an application, through advocate Manik Dogra, to expedite the recording of evidence in an orderly and fair manner in the first Rs 10-crore defamation suit against Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders for allegations of corruption made by them against him.
The application for expedited hearing claimed that “numerous irrelevant and scandalous questions have been asked during the cross examination” of the Union minister and that “abusive and defamatory statements have been made” on the instructions of Kejriwal.
The chief minister has also submitted that he had never delayed the proceedings in the present civil suit. He also said that the present application is misconceived as the present suit is moving at a pace faster than most of the suits pending in the high court. The matter was adjourned to July 26.
Jaitley’s further contends that the intention of the defendants (Kejriwal and others) was to “delay the conclusion of recording of evidence by posing questions which are designed to be insulting and annoying”. In the first defamation case, besides Kejriwal, the five other accused are AAP leaders Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai. They had accused the BJP leader of corruption as the President of the DDCA, a post he had held from 2000 to 2013.
Jaitley, who had denied all the allegations levelled by the AAP leaders in December 2015, had claimed that they had made “false and defamatory” statements in the case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.
The AAP leaders had allegedly attacked Jaitley and his family members in various fora including social media over the alleged irregularities and financial bungling in the DDCA.
Justice Manmohan had earlier termed as “scandalous” the remarks made by Jethmalani against Jaitley before the Joint Registrar during the cross-examination.
Terming the word as not only “false, baseless, malicious and abusive, but per se defamatory”, Jaitley in his fresh suit has stated that he was “subjected to numerous questions, terminologies/statements that are ex-facie abusive, malicious, offenive, irrelevant and slanderous”.