Court directs Kejriwal to appear before it in defamation case

New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS) A court here on Monday directed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders to appear before it on the next hearing as it is likely to frame notice against them in a defamation case filed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass said that Kejriwal and the other leaders are required to be present on March 25, the next date fixed for framing of notice against the six accused in the defamation case.

Jaitley filed a defamation case against Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee, alleging that they made “false and defamatory” statements in a case involving the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), thereby harming his reputation.

He said the AAP leaders made the statements to deflect public attention from a Central Bureau of Investigation probe against a civil servant working with Kejriwal.

The court allowed the plea of Jaitley as well as the AAP leaders seeking exemption from personal appearance.

Jaitley has sought exemption on account of discharge of his official duties while AAP leaders’ counsel informed the court that they are busy in election campaigning in Punjab.

The court also dismissed the plea of Kejriwal and the other AAP leaders for right to be heard on point of framing of notice in a criminal defamation complaint.

The accused had moved the court seeking a chance to be heard before it decided on whether they would be put on trial in the criminal defamation complaint.

“I am of the considered opinion that no ground is made out for hearing accused persons at the stage of framing of notice. The application is bereft of any merit, mala fide and filed solely with a view to stall the trial,” the court said.

“Accordingly, the application moved by the accused persons stands dismissed.”

The court also said that the “law is one and same for all the parties.”

“Consistent and certain application of law is very strength of law. Law cannot be afford to be inconsistent, neither can be applied inconsistently,” it said.

Kejriwal’s counsel and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had argued that even if the accused cannot be heard at this stage, still courts can call upon the accused persons to address submission taking into account the nature of the case.

Jaitley’s counsel and senior advocate Siddarth Luthra with advocate Manoj Taneja had contended that accused had no right to address court at the time of framing notice in this defamation case.