Sunday, December 10, 2023

Delhi court refuses to quash criminal defamation case against Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, says absence of complaint not justifiable ground to seek acquittal

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A Delhi court has dismissed a petition filed by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot seeking acquittal in the criminal defamation case filed by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat against him in connection with a credit society scam worth Rs 900 crore.

Gehlot had filed the application under Section 256 of CrPC seeking acquittal in the case on the grounds of Shekhawat’s absence on August 7 and 21.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Harjeet Singh Jaspal of Rouse Avenue Courts observed on Tuesday that Shekhawat’s conduct was of immense significance in the case and his absence on mere two dates, that too when he was represented by his counsel, could not be called a justifiable ground to exercise the discretion and acquit Gehlot.

It further noted that on both the dates, the matter was listed for supply of documents and scrutiny and it was clearly not an opportunity to Shekhawat to lead evidence.

The judge noted that since the personal attendance of the complainant was not necessary on both dates to take the matter forward, there was no merit in the arguments made by the accused and hence, the petition has been dismissed.

Earlier on July 6, the ACMM had issued summons to Gehlot in the criminal defamation case.

In April this year, the Union Minister had moved the Rouse Avenue Court, claiming that the Rajasthan Chief Minister had defamed him and falsely accused him of being involved in the Sanjivani Credit Society scam worth Rs 900 crore.

As per the plea filed by the Union Minister, Gehlot made defamatory allegations in February, 2023 after meeting some people who lost their investment in Sanjeevani. These aggrieved people had alleged that Shekhawat was involved in the scam.

The petition said that while speaking to the media during a press conference in February this year, Gehlot named the Jal Shakti Minister and wondered how such people could become Ministers in the Narendra Modi government.

The Rajasthan Chief Minister further made defamatory allegations against Shekhawat after meeting some people who lost their investment in Sanjeevani. These aggrieved people had later alleged that the Union Minister was involved in the scam

The very next day, Shekhawat held a press conference, wherein he refuted all the allegations, noted the petition.

It said on March 24, 2023, the Court had ordered Delhi Police to investigate whether or not Gehlot actually said that Shekhawat was an accused in the scam.

A report was then filed by the Delhi Police. Shekhawat’s counsel argued that all the questions put up by the court have been answered in the affirmative in the report.

The Counsel appearing for Shekhawat also claimed that when the Rajasthan government probed the credit society scam case, his name did not appear anywhere.

The BJP leader sought prosecution of Gehlot under Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal defamation. He further demanded appropriate financial compensation for the loss of his reputation.

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