The Delhi High Court on Monday imposed another Rs. 5,000 as cost on the city’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, over delay in filing his reply to a fresh Rs. 10 crore defamation suit filed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Jaitley had filed a second defamation case worth Rs 10 crore after Kejriwal’s former lawyer, Ram Jethmalani, called the finance minister a crook.
Joint Registrar Pankaj Gupta directed Kejriwal, who was earlier slapped with Rs. 10,000 as cost, to deposit Rs. 5,000 in the ‘Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties’.
The cost was imposed after Jaitley’s counsel Manik Dogra informed the court that the chief minister’s written statement to the suit was filed beyond the time of two weeks granted by this court on 26 July.
The counsel further submitted that these were delayed tactics on the part of the chief minister.
Advocate Rishikesh Kumar, appearing for Kejriwal, urged the court to condone the delay on the ground that the written statement could not be filed due to certain technical objections raised on two occasions by the High Court Registry.
Taking note of this submission, the Registrar condoned the delay on behalf of the chief minister and said the same is “subject to deposit of Rs. 5,000 costs,” reported news agency PTI.
The court has now fixed the matter for12 October. Meanwhile, Kejriwal, in his reply to the defamation suit, filed through advocate Anupam Srivastava submitted that the union minister’s suit “is liable to be dismissed as no civil action for damages for slander lies for any statement in pleadings or during the conduct of a suit against a party or a witness in it.”
The high court had on 23 May sought response of Kejriwal on why defamation proceedings should not be initiated against him. Kejriwal had denied ever instructing Jethmalani to call Jaitley a crook.
However, Jethmalani later wrote an explosive letter to the Delhi chief minister alleging that the latter had used even worse abuses for the finance minister.
Jaitley had filed the second defamation suit after Kejriwal’s then lawyer Ram Jethmalani allegedly “abused” him in open court during proceedings of another defamation suit he had filed against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and five other party functionaries.
During the cross-examination of the Union minister on May 17 before the Joint Registrar in the High Court, Jethmalani had allegedly used a term Jaitley had found objectionable.
A day after, another high court judge, who was hearing a connected matter, had termed as “scandalous” the remarks allegedly made by Jethmalani against Jaitley before the Joint Registrar.