Veteran lawyer, Ram Jethmalani, grilled Finance Minister Arun Jaitley the second day in a row in Rs 10 crore defamation case the latter has filed in the High Court.
Jaitley, according to NDTV, alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had commited an act of libel by alleging that his wife and daughters were linked to fake companies.
He said, “Mr Kejriwal has committed a serious act of libel and malicious also, by alleging that my wife and daughter are recipients, are linked to fake companies… (it is) not only false but taking public discourse to a very low level,” he said.
Jethmalani, who’s representing Kejriwal, reminded him that the Delhi chief minister had merely retweeted the tweet posted by journalist Madhu Kishwar.
To which, Jaitley said that many people made irresponsible statements on social media “but when a Chief Minister endorses them, it becomes a grave and serious offence”.
Jaitley, who contested Lok Sabha polls unsuccessfully in 2014, was asked by Jethmalani if that was the first time the finance minister had putting his ‘great reputation’ at test.
He said that an election result was the outcome of “several factors in the constituency and not merely a test of a candidate’s reputation.”
“Considering that (Mr Kejriwal) lost the same Lok Sabha election in 2014 by three and a half lakh votes…” Jaitley added before being interrupted by Jethmalani.
Kejriwal’s lawyer said, “You take my advice, don’t get into irrelevant matters and only answer what I asked.”
Jaitley was also asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi was knew that he will filing the defamation case against Kejriwal. The finance minister replied in negative.
Jethmalani on Monday had cross-examined Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who has filed a Rs 10 crore civil defamation suit in the Delhi High Court against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five AAP leaders for accusing him of financial bungling in DDCA.
Jaitley’s cross-examination by Jethmalani, who is representing Kejriwal, remained inconclusive and will continue on May 15 and 17.
During the proceedings which lasted nearly two hours in a packed court room of Joint Registrar Amit Kumar, a variety of questions including allegations made against him by veteran cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi were put to the Finance Minister.
Jaitley refuted the allegations of financial bungling in DDCA, saying “a letter of Mr Bedi was written in 2015 and I had left the post of President in DDCA in 2013.”
“I strongly deny the contents of this letter in so far it pertains to me… To the best of my knowledge, the contents of the letter are untrue in so far as it relates to my tenure in DDCA,” Jaitley said after going through the letter which was shown to him.
During the cross-examination which was full of drama, lawyers of both sides opposed various questions and answers and Jaitley’s counsel – senior advocates Rajiv Nayar, Sandeep Sethi and Pratibha M Singh – termed some of them “scandalous”.
The Finance Minister, who was put several controversial questions by Jethmalani, maintained calm and said “Mr Kejriwal has committed a serious act of libel through his malicious falsehood. Alleging that my wife and daughter are linked to fake companies was not only false but taking the public discourse to a very low level.”
Jaitley has filed a Rs 10 crore civil defamation suit in the High Court against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders – Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai – for accusing him of financial irregularities in Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which he was the president for about 13 years till 2013.
Jethmalani had fired 52 questions to Jaitley in his bid to prove that the lawsuit on defamation by the senior BJP leader was unfounded and should be dismissed. However, 11 questions of the noted senior lawyer were disallowed by Joint Registrar Amit Kumar on the ground that some were matter of record and irrelevant to the case and others were questions of law and not fact and some could be argued during the hearing before the regular court.
The Finance Minister, who headed the DDCA for 13 years, has already tendered evidence in support of his civil defamation suit against Kejriwal and five AAP leaders — Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai.
However, Jaitley, facing a barrage of questions from his former BJP colleague who was expelled from the party in 2013 for six years, refuted Kejriwal’s claim that the December 2015 CBI raid at the Delhi Chief Minister’s office was “purely” aimed at removing files related to alleged irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) in which the Finance Minister was allegedly named.
(With PTI inputs)