Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday filed a criminal defamation case against six Aam Aadmi Party leaders – Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai – in a Delhi court for alleging that the former DDCA president was involved in cricket corruption.
After hearing the case, Patiala House Court fixed 5 January as the date for recording complainant’s pre-summoning evidence.
Also on Monday, Delhi government cabinet approved setting up of one-member commission of inquiry under former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium to probe alleged irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association.
Ironically, BJP MP Kirti Azad had levelled charges of corruption against entire tenure of 13 years – 1999-2013 – and he dared Jaitley to file a defamation case against him too.
Former India player Azad said on Monday: “I’m upset the defamation case isnt against me, I wish the case was against me because I am the one who raised this issue.”
In an earlier tweet, Azad, a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning team, had said, “Mera naam kyon hata diya @arunjaitley #Aap ne toh mere letters dikhae theey, mujhpar karo na case, registered post se maine bheje theey.”
Also on Monday, the government categorically ruled out resignation of Jaitley even as Congress members disrupted proceedings of Rajya Sabha.
“No one will resign,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said. “No one will resign over ‘false charges’ levelled against him”.
While one section of the BJP supported Jaitley, expelled MP Ram Jethmalani said, “There should of course be an inquiry.”
“Allegation against Arun Jaitley ji are baseless, good that a defamation case has been filed,” said union minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore, another union minister, tweeted: “BJP & Arun Jaitley ji is not scared of inquiries at all. Everyone knows the high standards of Jaitley ji’s politics.”
Jaitley’s lawyer Sidharth Luthra told the court that the former DDCA president had never taken a ‘single penny’ from DDCA in his entire tenure of 13 years.
Senior BJP leaders Venkaiah Naidu, Smriti Irani, VK Malhotra went to the Patiala House Court in Jaitley’s support.
In Parliament on Monday, the Congress party demanded a Parliamentary probe panel on alleged DDCA irregularities and the resignation of Jaitley, but he rejected the charges against him as “baseless”.
Dissatisfied over Jaitley’s reply in the Lok Sabha, Congress members walked out of the house.
Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha after Question Hour, Congress leader K.C. Venugopal alleged that Jaitley was aware of the “irregularities” in the DDCA and that “he is also involved in the scam”.
“Therefore, we demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee (to probe the issue) and his resignation,” Venugopal said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the Congress member had made an uncalled for statement and personally targeted the finance minister.
Jaitley responded by saying that since Delhi did not have a cricket stadium, “We (the DDCA) considered it necessary that the national capital should get a proper stadium.”
Elaborating, Jaitley said the DDCA decided to raise resources and 43 corporate boxes were created at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. Further, tickets were sold in advance for 10 years and each seat sold for Rs.1 lakh. He said the DDCA raised another Rs.35 crore by selling space for putting signage.
He said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) offered Rs.50 crore for constructing a bigger stadium.
“By tendering process, the contract was given to Engineers India Ltd. The civil works were done for Rs.57 crore. Forty-three other works were to be done. These were predominantly done through their sub-contractor,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley, who was frequently interrupted by Congress members, said the stadium was built at a total cost of Rs.114 crore.
Taking a dig at the Congress, Jaitley said the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi was renovated at a cost of Rs.900 crore for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, held during the UPA government’s rule.
Jaitley said the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which went into the allegations concerning DDCA, did not say that the expenses were wrong.
“The allegations are baseless. They are wrong,” Jaitley said.
The minister also referred to allegations made against him by AAP leaders outside Parliament and the defamation case filed by him.
“Since this issue has acquired overtones outside the house, (appropriate) remedies have been taken,” he said.
Seemingly dissatisfied with the minister’s reply, the Congress walked out of the house.
On Monday, the Rajya Sabha’s proceedings were also disrupted on the same issue with Congress members demanding Jaitley’s resignation over alleged irregularities in DDCA affairs.