Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday told the Delhi High Court that he has not yet decided whether he will pursue his case against a trial court decision sending him to jail in a defamation case filed by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Ashutosh Kumar was informed by the counsel for Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) convenor Kejriwal that advocate Prashant Bhushan is not representing him any more so he needs more time to decide on the issue.
“Whether we will pursue the matter or not, has not been decided yet,” Kejriwal’s counsel said, adding that some other senior counsel will be engaged then only the Chief Minister will be able to inform the court.
Kejriwal’s counsel, meanwhile, requested the court to adjourn the matter. The court has now fixed the matter for further consideration on May 26.
On April 17, the Supreme court had stayed Kejriwal’s prosecution in two criminal defamation cases, including the one filed by Gadkari, and also sought a reply from the Centre on the CM’s plea challenging constitutional validity of the penal provisions.
The submission by Kejriwal’s counsel came in the backdrop of the court’s February 23 query whether Kejriwal is still interested in pursuing his case.
“Are you still interested in pursuing the case? We think, now there is nothing left in it,” the bench had said after the counsel for Kejriwal sought adjournment in the matter.
The bench had further said the petition was “infructuous” while noting that Kejriwal has already furnished his bail bond in the case.
The court’s observations had come during the hearing of Kejriwal’s plea whether it is correct to seek bail bonds and sureties from people who are summoned by courts on complaints filed in cases like that of criminal defamation.
Kejriwal has challenged May 21 and 23 last year orders of a magisterial court remanding him in judicial custody for not furnishing a bail bond in the criminal defamation complaint filed by Gadkari, saying it was not mandatory and he should have been allowed to give a written undertaking instead.
Senior advocate Geeta Luthra and advocate Balendu Shekhar, appearing for Gadkari, had said that normally habeas corpus does not lie in the judicial order.
The court, however, had refused to say anything on the maintainability of the petition and had posted the matter for hearing today.
On July 31 last year, the high court had suggested to Gadkari and Kejriwal to “bury” the hatchet over the alleged statement made by the AAP leader and “shake hands” with each other in larger “public interest”.
On January 30, 2014 Kejriwal had allegedly made a defamatory statement against Gadkari in media.
The Chief Minister had refused to furnish a personal bail bond on the issue saying common people should not be subjected to harassment on technical grounds in courts of law in petty cases.
In his plea, Kejriwal said the magisterial order sending him to judicial custody was “illegal” as it was based on a “completely wrong premise of law”.
He had, subsequently, moved the high court against the magisterial order. However, on the high court’s suggestion he had sought bail from the lower court.
The lower court has put Kejriwal on trial on charges of defamation.
The court had framed the charge after Kejriwal refused to heed to the magistrate’s suggestion to amicably resolve the case filed against him by Gadkari, even after the Union minister indicated that if the AAP leader was ready to withdraw his alleged defamatory statement he would drop his complaint.