A Delhi court today fixed August 23 for framing charges against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia in a criminal defamation complaint. Metropolitan Magistrate Pranjal Aneja, who was scheduled to frame charges today, was on leave. The court had earlier directed the two AAP leaders and Yogendra Yadav to appear before it today. While Kejriwal and Sisodia sought exemption on the ground that they have to attend the four-day Monsoon session of Delhi Assembly which is commencing today, Yadav was present in the court. The court had on August 2 passed order on framing of notice (charge) on the criminal defamation complaint filed against the two AAP leaders, who sought quashing of the plea, and Yadav by advocate Surender Kumar Sharma, who was denied ticket by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The court had said in the order that the contentions on behalf of accused persons do no sustain and it proceeded to frame notice under the CrPC against them. Yadav was a member of the National Executive of the AAP until 2015, when he was expelled for alleged anti-party activities. Later, he floated his own party Swaraj India.
Sharma, in his complaint, had alleged that in 2013 he was approached by volunteers of AAP who had asked him to contest the Delhi Assembly elections on a party ticket, saying Kejriwal was pleased with his social services. He filled up the application form to contest the polls after being told by Sisodia and Yadav that AAP’s Political Affairs Committee had decided to give him the ticket. However, it was later denied to him.
On October 14, 2013 the complainant claimed, articles in leading newspapers carried “defamatory, unlawful and derogatory words used by the accused persons” which have lowered his reputation in the Bar and the society. Opposing the complaint, the AAP leaders had submitted that cancellation or allotment of an election ticket is the prerogative of the party and the complainant had not divulged correct information as to the cases pending against him.
On the basis of the complaint, the trial court had earlier sought their presence before it in the matter. It, however, had granted bail to Kejriwal, Sisodia and Yadav, after they had appeared before it in pursuance to summonses against them.
The summonses were issued on the complaint under sections 499, 500 (defamation) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC, with the trial court saying there was prima facie material to summon the accused.
While issuing summonses against AAP leaders, the trial court had said, “The press release published in newspapers as well as testimonies of witnesses reflect that defamatory remarks were published in the newspaper which affected the reputation of the complainant in the society and lowered his reputation in the eyes of other members of the society.” The Delhi High Court had earlier refused to stay the trial court proceedings in the case.