The Delhi High Court today declined to stay the trial court proceedings in a criminal defamation case filed by union minister Arun Jaitley against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders in the controversy surrounding Delhi cricket body DDCA. The high court was hearing a plea by AAP leader Deepak Bajpai, who along with others was put on trial in the defamation case, challenging the lower court’s orders summoning and framing notice against him.
Justice I S Mehta issued notice to the Delhi government and Jaitley and sought their response on the plea but declined the plea of Bajpai’s counsel for an interim stay on the proceedings before the trial court. The court listed the matter for September 19. Besides the trial court orders of summoning and framing notice against Bajpai for the alleged offence of defamation, his advocate Prashant Mendiratta also challenged the order by which his application seeking to be heard on the point of notice was also rejected.
During the hearing, senior counsel Sandeep Sethi and advocate Amit Mahajan, appearing for Jaitley, opposed the plea saying the AAP leader wanted to delay the proceedings and should not be allowed to do so. They argued that the accused have been appearing before the trial court for over a year and filed the plea before the high court now. Bajpai’s counsel argued that he resides outside the jurisdiction of the trial court and cannot be summoned by the court without an inquiry under the CrPC, which was not done in this case.
He claimed in the petition that the order by which he was denied the opportunity to be heard on the point of framing notice was “erroneous” as, in law, the accused has a right to be heard before notice is framed against him by the court which has not been done in this case. “Notice for offence of defamation has been framed against accused persons including the petitioner without affording them opportunity to be heard,” the plea said. Besides, Kejriwal and Bajpai, the other AAP leaders accused in the case are Ashutosh, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh and Radhav Chaddha.
Jaitley had filed the complaint alleging that the accused had defamed him in a controversy regarding Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) which he headed for over a decade. Earlier, Jaitley had appeared in the trial court and said that Kejriwal and five AAP leaders had made “false and defamatory” statements. He had rejected the charge that he had siphoned off money from DDCA for his own benefit. Jaitley was the DDCA President from December 1999 to December 2013.
On December 21, 2015, Jaitley had filed the criminal defamation case against them and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of up to two years in jail. A civil defamation suit has also been filed by Jaitley before the Delhi High Court in the matter seeking Rs 10 crore as damages. Presently, Jaitley is being cross-examined by Kejriwal’s counsel before the high court.