Delhi HC rules out ‘Double Jeopardy’ claim by Arvind Kejriwal and AAP leaders

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal was slammed on Monday for his stay at Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) commander Gurinder Singh’s house in Moga.

New Delhi, Oct 20: The politicians are the most popular ones to file defamation cases to settle scores and position themselves as pro-active among their subjects. However, the efforts of Aam  Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal to get rid of such a defamation case filed by Union Minister Arun Jaitley badly failed as Delhi High Court dismissing the stay plea by the AAP leaders.

The 30-page judgement dismissed the plea citing that the petitioner failed to prove that the Jaitley’s case proceedings is abuse of the process of laws.

“Nothing have been brought before this court to the effect that continuation of criminal proceedings is abuse of the process of law before the CMM and any order is required by this court to secure the ends of justice. Thus, this court is of the view that the order of the CMM, dated May 19, 2016 continuing with the proceedings is free from perversity, impropriety, illegality and non-sustainability which compelled this court to exercise the inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 Cr PC,” the court said.

Colonial India has witnessed a range of politically motivated defamation actions which had nothing to do with protecting their own reputations. In fact, defamation litigation has long become an extension of politics, in many cases a new front for political manoeuvring.

Being a politician, one should at least file defamation petition to show the popularity. Of all the petitions before the Supreme Court concerning the decriminalisation of defamation, the three that received the most news coverage were those of Subramanian Swamy, Rahul Gandhi, and Arvind Kejriwal.

Jaitly had filed two cases simultaneously at Dehi High Court and the AAP leaders argued that ‘parallel proceedings’ could not be held. This was a ‘Double Jeopardy’ as AAP leaders will be tried twice.

Even the senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had also argued to postpone the criminal trial till the civil proceedings in the HC were completed. However, the petitioner’s lawyers opposed the plea.

The bench in its judgment has now held that the two proceedings did not violate the rule of double jeopardy which mandates that a person cannot be tried in a court of law twice for the same offence. “Though it is correct that the parties in both cases are the same, but the fact remains that both the cases are different in nature,” the bench noted. The detailed judgment is likely to be released later this evening.

On 21 December 2015, Arun Jaitley had filed a criminal defamation case against the Delhi CM and five other AAP leaders — Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai. If held guilty, an accused faces up to 2 years imprisonment and fine. Jaitley had also filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore in damage from the AAP leaders before the Delhi High court. The union finance minister has accused the AAP leaders of issuing false and defamatory statement against him and his family in connection with alleged irregularities in DDCA, when Jaitley was the association’s president. The court granted bail to Kejriwal and others on April 7 after they appeared before it.

Timeline

-Dec 16, 2015: Kejriwal started attack on Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley claiming that the CBI raided his office to scrutinize a file relating to DDCA which Jaitley once headed. However the probing agency has denied the charge.

-Dec 30, 2015: AAP leaders alleged they have “irrefutable” evidence that Jaitley tried to interfere in a Delhi Police probe into a case of corruption in the DDCA.

-Dec 21, 2015: Arun Jaitley filed a criminal defamation case against the Delhi CM and other AAP leaders.

-Feb 5, 2016: Kejriwal “does not possess either a reputation or character” in his own estimation, Jaitley said to court.

-March 9, 2016: Chief metropolitan magistrate Sumit Dass issued summons to the AAP leaders including Kejriwal, says AAP charges against Arun Jaitley insulting, taunting.

-April 7, 2016: Court grants bail to Kejriwal and other AAP leaders after they appeared before the court in pursuance of summons issued against him.

-July 12, 2016: Kejriwal and other AAP functionaries denied making any of the statements attributed to them.

-July 13, 2016: Arvind Kejriwal files a plea before the Delhi High Court, seeking a stay on one of the two cases.

-Oct 19, 2016: Delhi High Court refuses to put stay on the criminal defamation case filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

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