Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal today claimed that the civil defamation suit filed against him and five other AAP leaders by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the DDCA row was “a classic instance of political vendetta” with a view to “harassing” them and curbing their right to free speech.
“The present suit is a classic instance of political vendetta which the plaintiff is seeking to wreak on the defendants for having sought to speak up against the malaise of corruption and maladministration,” Kejriwal said in his written statement to the notice issued by the High Court on Jaitley’s suit.
He has contended that the suit was filed with the “malafide intention” of “coercing, pressuring and harassing” him and other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders “from exercising their right of free speech and expression”.
The Chief Minister has claimed that by filing the suit, Jaitley has attempted to “browbeat the defendants (Kejriwal and others) into silence and dissuade them from drawing attention to the mismanagement and rampant financial irregularities plaguing the DDCA and from inviting scrutiny into the manner of functioning of the said association.”
The High Court on December 22 last year had sought the response of Kejriwal, Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai–on a civil defamation suit by Jaitley seeking Rs 10 crore in damages from them for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family.
Chadha has also filed his response to the notice and when contacted said that he and the Chief Minister have a
Kejriwal in his statement has said that Jaitley’s “claim that he enjoys a high public character is totally frivolous and unsustainable.”
“The last time he contested the election to the Lok Sabha was from Amritsar as a BJP candidate in 2014. Despite the success of the BJP, this plaintiff lost by a margin of more than 1,00,000 votes. Indian democracy has never accepted his claim of public character,” he has said.
The statement also said,”It is denied that the statements attributed to this defendant (Kejriwal) are false, baseless or malicious and do not in any manner injure or affect the plaintiff (Jaitley).
“The plaintiff being a public figure is subject to public scrutiny. The plaintiff has himself, in the past, spoken out vehemently against other public figures on issues pertaining to corruption and cannot escape the same scrutiny.”
Kejriwal has said that the “instant plaint has been instituted with the malafide intention of intimidating and coercing this defendant into succumbing to the threat of false,
frivolous and malicious prosecution..”
He also said that he had made the statements against Jaitley in public interest and based upon material and information which are part of public record since 2013 and questioned why the Union Minister did not take any legal action against others, including BJP MP Kirti Azad and Bishen Singh Bedi, who had made such allegations.
“The statements made by this defendant are in public interest and are based upon material and information which form part of public record which have been supplied to him which he bona fide believes to be true especially on account of the fact that despite such documents having formed a part of public record, the plaintiff has chosen not to institute any legal action against other persons / entities who have made the said information public,” he said.
He also questioned why Jaitley did not take any action despite various audit reports and letters bringing to his attention information relating to alleged mismanagement of the affairs of the DDCA.
He has alleged that Jaitley was privy to the information relating to mismanagement of the affairs of the DDCA, but instead of taking action “advised the police to stop making any inquiry”.
Kejriwal said that it was the Delhi government which had as a first step set up a committee “to examine the material supplied and submit a report to this defendant(Kejriwal)”.
Jaitley’s action had come in the backdrop of attacks on him by Kejriwal and other AAP leaders over alleged irregularities and financial bunglings in DDCA of which he was the president for about 13 years till 2013.
The minister has also filed a criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi court against Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders for making false allegations about financial irregularities in DDCA.
In his suit, Jaitley has said Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, with common intention, have from December 15, 2015, “undertaken a false, malicious and defamatory campaign against him and his family members for political mileage causing irreversible damage to him”.
It was done to deflect issues from an unrelated search during investigation by CBI of a bureaucrat in the secretariat of the Delhi government based on a complaint by a third party, Jaitley has said.
( Source – PTI )