The Delhi High Court Tuesday said that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was “not being reasonable” in the civil defamation case against him by Union minister Arun Jaitley, and cautioned his lawyers over their conduct.
“You (defendant 1 – Kejriwal) are not being reasonable.
Your conduct is not reasonable. It cannot be like this. We cannot have proceedings go on in this manner. Otherwise tomorrow we will have fist fight in court. Whole system is on the brink of collapse,” Justice Manmohan said.
“I am cautioning you. Give good advice,” the judge said to the lawyer representing Kejriwal.
The oral observations by the court came on an application moved by Jaitley to expedite the recording of evidence in an orderly and fair manner in a Rs 10-crore defamation suit filed by him against Kejriwal and five other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders for allegations of corruption made by them against the BJP leader.
When the application came up for hearing, senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, appearing for Jaitley, said the Union minister has been compelled to move the plea “as every hearing before the Joint Registrar cannot prompt a fresh defamation case”.
Advocate Ramesh Singh, appearing for Kejriwal, sought time to file his reply to the application and, thereafter, the court listed the matter for further hearing on July 24.
The application, filed through advocate Manik Dogra, was moved subsequent to the use of an objectionable word against Jaitley by the Delhi Chief Minister’s lawyer Ram Jethmalani during the Union minister’s cross examination in the suit.
The use of the objectionable word had led to Jaitley filing another Rs 10-crore defamation suit against Kejriwal.
The application for expedited hearing claims that “numerous irrelevant and scandalous questions have been asked during the cross examination” of the Union minister and that “abusive and defamatory statements have been made” on the instructions of Kejriwal.
The application further contends that the intention of the defendants (Kejriwal and others) was to “delay the conclusion of recording of evidence by posing questions which are designed to be insulting and annoying”.
In the first defamation case, besides Kejriwal, the five other accused are AAP leaders Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai.
They had accused the BJP leader of corruption as the President of the DDCA, a post he had held from 2000 to 2013.
Jaitley, who had denied all the allegations levelled by the AAP leaders in December 2015, had claimed that they had made “false and defamatory” statements in the case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.
The AAP leaders had allegedly attacked Jaitley and his family members in various fora including social media over the alleged irregularities and financial bungling in the DDCA.
Justice Manmohan had earlier termed as “scandalous” the remarks made by Jethmalani against Jaitley before the Joint Registrar during the cross-examination.
Terming the word as not only “false, baseless, malicious and abusive, but per se defamatory”, Jaitley in his fresh suit has stated that he was “subjected to numerous questions, terminologies/statements that are ex-facie abusive, malicious, offensive, irrelevant and slanderous”.
(With PTI inputs)