New Delhi: Delhi High Court on Monday reserved its order on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea to stay the proceedings before a trial court in a criminal defamation case filed against him and AAP leaders by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
“The judgement is reserved,” Justice P S Teji said after the counsel for both the parties concluded their arguments on the plea challenging the trial court’s May 19 order by which it had turned down the chief minister’s request to adjourn hearing on a criminal defamation case before it, till the high court decided the civil suit before it.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Kejriwal, submitted that there were two cases–one civil and the other criminal–filed against AAP leaders on the same allegations and the trial court should have stayed the proceedings in the matter, but it had declined.
“The trial court judge had said that he has no power to stay the proceedings,” Jethmalani said quoting from the lower court’s order and added, “Power to stay can be exercised by postponing the matter also” Opposing the contention, senior advocates Harish Salve and Siddharth Luthra, representing Jaitley, said that in “today’s world, the words used are more powerful than sword”.
“No prejudice would be caused to the AAP leaders if both the civil suit before high court and the criminal proceedings before the trial court go contemporaneously,” Luthra had said.
Jaitley has filed a criminal defamation complaint alleging Kejriwal and five AAP leaders — Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai – had defamed him in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.
On April 7 the trial court had granted bail to Kejriwal and others after they had appeared before it. Jaitley had on December 21, 2015 filed the criminal defamation case against the AAP leaders and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of up to two years in jail.
Besides the criminal defamation case, Jaitley has also filed a civil defamation suit in the High Court seeking Rs 10 crore in damages from Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family in connection with alleged irregularities in DDCA when he was its president.