The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notice to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a fresh Rs 10 crore defamation suit filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over his lawyer Ram Jethmalani using the word “crook”.
Joint Registrar Pankaj Gupta issued the notice to Kejriwal and posted the matter for July 26.
Jaitley, in the second civil defamation suit against Kejriwal, claimed the objectionable words caused him “permanent harm and disrepute”.
This is a separate case from the ongoing Rs 10 crore Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) defamation suit against Kejriwal and five other Aam Aadmi Party leaders that Jaitley filed in 2015.
On May 17, Jaitley and senior advocate Jethmalani clashed in the court with the Union Minister taking strong objection to the word “crook” that Jethmalani used while cross-examining the Minister.
During the cross-examination conducted on behalf of Kejriwal, Jethmalani subjected Jaitley to “numerous questions, terminologies, statements that are exfacie abusive, malicious, offensive, irrelevant and slanderous”, the Union Minister said in his new plea.
Senior advocate Jethmalani had said: “I intend to show that this man (Jaitley) is a crook.”
It prompted strong objection from the Minister, who furiously asked Jethmalani whether the word “crook” was used by him in his personal capacity or as per the instruction of Kejriwal.
Jethmalani had said that it was used by him on instructions from his client; Jaitley then threatened to seek higher damages.
“I will aggravate the charges against the defendants (Kejriwal)… There is a limit to personal malice,” Jaitley had said.
Jaitley’s counsel had also objected to Jethmalani referring to the Minister as being “guilty of crime and crookery”.
The advocate-on-record for Kejriwal though submitted that Jethmalani had no instructions from the client to use the word.
But the fresh defamation suit said: “Jethmalani categorically stated that he used the word ‘crook’ on the instructions from his client (Kejriwal herein).”
“He further categorically stated that he has received this instruction in his meeting with Kejriwal, and further stated that this meeting was held in absence of the advocate-on-record representing Kejriwal in the said prior suit,” the suit said.
It also added that “clearly, Kejriwal has brazenly and with a malafide intent to cause further prejudice, damage and loss to the name, reputation and credibility of Jaitley has deliberately used the terminology…”
“It is also evident that Kejriwal… attempted to gain cheap political mileage, with ulterior motive and malafide design, by causing further damage to the impeccable reputation of Jaitley.”
In December 2015, Jaitley filed a civil defamation suit against Kejriwal and AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee, claiming that they made “false and defamatory” statements in the case involving the DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.
Jaitley had sought Rs 10 crore in damages from Kejriwal and other AAP leaders in the DDCA case as well.
He had claimed that the AAP leaders attacked him over alleged irregularities and financial bungling in Delhi’s cricket association, of which he was the President for about 13 years.