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Kejriwal on sticky wicket vs Jaitley in defamation cases

Kejriwal on sticky wicket vs Jaitley in defamation cases
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The Delhi High Court’s single bench of Justice Manmohan on Wednesday (July 26) took strong exception to the language used by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s famous counsel Ram Jethmalani in court in the defamation suit filed by finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley. Terming the words “indecent, scandalous and abusive” the judge warned Kejriwal through his new counsel Anoop George Chaudhari that even a single repetition of such “unparliamentary” words would  land him in further trouble and the case would be  sent back to the registrar’s court.

The parties had petitioned the court to move the case to the court of a judge for expediting the case.

Kejriwal’s new counsel Chaudhari has asked for time to go through the proceedings and will now cross-examine Jaitley on August 28.

Meanwhile Jethmalani, who had quit Kejriwal’s brief in a huff, has sent a demand of Rs 2 crore to the chief minister as fees.

There were problems for the chief minister in the original defamation suit. Kejriwal was asked to file an affidavit, but his counsel asked for more time and the court was not willing. The joint registrar Pankaj Gupta, imposed a cost of Rs 10,000.

Jaitley has filed for Rs 10 crore damages in each of the cases.  It was from the use of the “crook” by Jethmalani that the second case emanated.

During the cross examination senior counsel Jethmalani used the word “crook” against the Jaitley. When Jaitley asked Jethmalani whether this word was used by him as per instruction from his client, Jethmalani had insisted that he was speaking with consent from his client (Kejriwal). Kejriwal had later, on oath, denied that he had instructed Jethmalani to use such words against Jaitley.

On Wednesday, the judge said: “This is a matter of grave injustice.” He referred to the Indian Evidence Act Section 151. That section deals with ‘Indecent and scandalous questions’. It says: “The Court may forbid any questions or inquiries which it regards as indecent or scandalous, although such questions or inquiries may have some bearing on the questions before the court, unless they relate to facts in issue, or to matters necessary to be known in order to determine whether or not the facts in issue existed.”

Kejriwal’s new counsel Chaudhary said that this will not happen again. “If it happens again, take action,” he said. “We don’t want to be involved with the issue.”

The plaintiff said, “the damage is done on the internet worldwide. “Even in civil defamation there is something called privilege of court. There has to be reasonable ground for asking unreasonable questions.”

India Legal Bureau

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