The Delhi High Court is likely to deliver on Wednesday its decision on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea to stay the proceedings before a trial court in a criminal defamation case filed against him and other Aam Aadmi Party leaders by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
On July 25, the HC had reserved its verdict on Kejriwal’s plea challenging the trial court’s May 19 order by which it had turned down the Delhi Chief Minister’s request to adjourn hearing on a criminal defamation case before it, till the high court decided a related civil suit. As per Kejriwal’s plea, there are 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,” senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Kejriwal, had said during the arguments by quoting from the lower court’s order and had added, “Power to stay can be exercised by postponing the matter also”.
Opposing the contention, senior advocates Harish Salve and Siddharth Luthra, representing Jaitley, had 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 had on December 21, 2015, filed a defamation case against Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee that they made “false and defamatory” statements in a case involving the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), thereby harming his reputation.
He said the AAP leaders made the statements to deflect public attention from a Central Bureau of Investigation probe against a civil servant working with Kejriwal.