Kejriwal has right to summon docs but not following process: Delhi HC on Jaitley defamation case

The court asked Jaitley's counsel to seek instructions on the plea and listed the matter for February 5 for passing directions.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (File photo | AFP)
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (File photo | AFP)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has a right to be allowed to confront a witness with documents in connection with a defamation suit filed by Union Minister Arun Jaitley against him, but he was not following proper legal procedure.

The court's remarks came during the hearing of an appeal filed by Kejriwal challenging a joint registrar's decision to dismiss his plea to summon the minutes of meetings of cricket body between 1999 and 2014 in the suit.

Jaitley, who was the President of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) from 2000 to 2013, has filed the defamation suit against Kejriwal who had alleged that there was corruption during his tenure.

"You should be allowed to put these documents to the witness but you are not following proper legal procedure" Justice Manmohan said.

The court asked Jaitley's counsel to seek instructions on the plea and listed the matter for February 5 for passing directions.

Advocate Anupam Srivastav, appearing for Kejriwal, said the joint registrar rejected their plea by strictly reading the procedural rules.

To this, the court said rule of law has to be followed.

Kejriwal's counsel had earlier submitted that the minutes of meetings of DDCA between 1999 and 2014 were necessary as they formed the basis of his defence in the defamation matter.

He had said the union minister was the president of DDCA from December 1999 till 2013 and Kejriwal had received a complaint alleging irregularities in the cricketing body by its current and past directors.

The advocate had said the defamation suit was filed in the backdrop of their allegation with regard to corruption in the DDCA, which the chief minister now seeks to establish.

Kejriwal had submitted that a DDCA official be summoned and asked to produce records pertaining to minutes of the meetings of the cricketing body held between 1999 to 2014.

Kejriwal has challenged the October 31, 2017 decision of a Joint Registrar of the high court who, while dismissing his plea, had said the chief minister cannot be allowed to use the judiciary for a "roving and fishing enquiry".

Jaitley is being cross-examined by the chief minister in the first defamation suit before the Joint Registrar.

The instant appeal has been moved by the chief minister in the Rs 10 crore defamation case filed by Jaitley against him and five other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders -- Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai, for accusing the BJP leader of corruption when he was the President of the DDCA.

Jaitley has already denied all the allegations by the AAP leaders in December 2015 and filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from them, claiming they had made "false and defamatory" statements in the case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.

The AAP convenor is facing another Rs 10 crore defamation suit by Jaitley after his former lawyer, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, used "scandalous words" while cross-examining the BJP leader.

Kejriwal, however, had told the court that he had not instructed Jethmalani to use such words against the minister, even though the senior advocate, who announced his retirement from the profession, had later said the chief minister had asked him to use abusive language.

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