NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Thursday suggested to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Arvind Kejriwal to "bury" the hatchet over the alleged statement made by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and "shake hands" with each other in larger "public interest".
A bench of justices Reva Khetrapal and S P Garg observed there would be no end to such issues and said it would be better for both the leaders to amicably resolve it and "bury the hatchet".
"Nothing is there, why can't you both parties shake hands and finish off the matter on an amicable note? Why don't you bury the hatchet and utilize time in a more productive manner?" the bench said.
"You both are renowned politicians, people look up to you," the court added.
In response to the court's observations, senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for the former Delhi Chief Minister, said "they (Gadkari) went to the court first, so let them withdraw their complaint but we will not withdraw our statement or any of the allegations made as we have proofs for all the issues raised by us".
He further said "let Gadkari give us the assurance that they will not seek prosecution of Kejriwal in this matter in future".
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, said "I (Gadkari) am an honest politician and damage has been caused to my reputation by the defamatory allegation levelled against me by Kejriwal. I don't have any personal enmity against Kejriwal."
She also told the court that her client is ready to resolve the issue if Kejriwal withdraws his statement. "If Kejriwal withdraws his allegations, then of course I will do (withdraw my case). But if he does not do that, then I will also not do it.
"It's not that we are scared of him," the ASG told the court and added that honesty is his (Gadkari) "political strength" and his "reputation is his capital". On January 30, Kejriwal had made an allegedly defamatory statement against Gadkari in the media.
The ASG also submitted the issues have to be abandoned, otherwise she needs to take instructions from the complainant.
To which the bench said "you cannot have your cake and eat it too."
It also suggested to Kejriwal's counsel that they can give an undertaking not to file any criminal complaint against Gadkari based on the AAP leader's allegations and the BJP leader can, thereafter, withdraw his defamation complaint.
The court asked the lawyers appearing for Gadkari and Kejriwal to seek instructions from their respective clients on whether they are agreeable to its suggestion and listed the matter for hearing on August 22.
The High Court was hearing a petition challenging the May 21 and 23 orders of a magisterial court remanding Kejriwal in judicial custody for not furnishing bail bond in the criminal defamation complaint filed by Gadkari, saying the same was not mandatory and he should have been allowed to give a written undertaking instead.
Kejriwal in his plea has said the magisterial order sending him to judicial custody was "illegal" as it was based on a "completely wrong premise of law."
He had, subsequently, moved the high court against the magisterial order. However, on the high court's suggestion he had sought bail from the lower court.
The lower court has put Kejriwal on trial on charges of defamation.
The court framed the charge after Kejriwal refused to heed to the magistrate's suggestion to amicably resolve the case filed against him by Gadkari, even after the Union Minister indicated that if the AAP leader was ready to withdraw his alleged defamatory statement he would drop his complaint.