HC closes defamation suit on kejriwal after he apologised to Arun Jaitley

The Delhi High Court today closed the Rs 10 crore defamation suit filed by Union minister Arun Jaitley after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal apologised to him.

Jaitley had filed this second defamation suit after Kejriwal’s former lawyer Ram Jethmalani allegedly “abused” him in open court during the proceedings of the original defamation suit against the Aam Aadmi Party chief and five other party functionaries.

Justice Manmohan allowed the settlement application jointly filed by Jaitley and Kejriwal and disposed of the suit following the AAP chief’s apology, which was accepted by the BJP leader.

The court accepted the written undertaking and statement of both the leaders and decreed the suit in accordance with the settlement application.

During the hearing, advocate Anupam Srivastava, appearing for Kejriwal, told the court that the matter was settled and Jaitley accepted the apology tendered by the AAP leader.

Senior advocate Rajiv Nayyar and advocate Manik Dogra, representing Jaitley, also said the dispute was settled by the parties.

The court noted that the settlement application was signed by the leaders as well as their advocates who undertook that their clients would abide by the undertaking given.

Another bench of the high court is scheduled to hear during the day Jaitley and Kejriwal’s settlement application in the first defamation suit.

Kejriwal had on March 19 opposed in the High Court the second Rs 10 crore defamation suit filed against him by Jaitley over the use of an objectionable word by Jethmalani. He claimed that he had never instructed his then counsel to use any scandalous words against the minister during recording of evidence.

During the cross-examination of the minister on May 17 last year before Joint Registrar, Jethmalani had used a term Jaitley found objectionable.

AAP leaders had accused the BJP leader of corruption as the president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), a post he had held from 2000 to 2013.

Jaitley, who had denied all allegations levelled by the AAP leaders in December 2015, had filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and five other leaders of his party, claiming they had made “false and defamatory” statements in the case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.

Delhi High Court upholds administrator’s amendments to DDCA Articles of Association (AoA)

The Delhi High Court today dismissed the objections raised by members of the controversy-ridden DDCA against amendments like the abolition of proxy voting to its Articles of Association (AoA) proposed by a court-appointed administrator.

Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla directed the administrator, former Supreme Court judge Vikramajit Sen, to ensure that the proposed amendments, including the setting up of independent selection committees and process, are incorporated in the AoA of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association and published in two weeks.

The court also asked Justice Sen to take steps to ensure that elections to the DDCA in accordance with the amended AoA are held within eight weeks from today.

The proposed amendments also included making players’ representatives and women a part of its governing body, laying down eligibility conditions for being appointed as an office-bearer or director and affiliated clubs being required to provide details of disbursement of funds provided by DDCA and submit accounts to it.

DDCA’s general body, at a meeting held in September last year, had in a resolution rejected almost all the amendments proposed by the administrator.

Rejecting the DDCA general body’s objections to the amendments, like capping of tenure of posts at nine years, the high court said that objective of ensuring that the same people or a clutch of individuals do not maintain their control over sport bodies like cricket associations “is to encourage budding talent and promote fresh blood, not only in the sport, but also in the management of its affairs”.

“By occupying one executive or decision making position in an organisation after another, a set of individuals can shut out an entire generation of new talent, which would possess greater energy and be more open to innovation,” it said in its 62-page judgement.

The amendments proposed by the administrator were based on the recommendations of the apex court appointed Justice R M Lodha committee on the IPL controversy for reform in the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the high court had noted.

The other amendments that were proposed included retired players and coaches being part of the independent sports working committee, procurement of goods be through transparent tendering process, ticketing rules to ensure match tickets and complimentary passes are not pilfered and misused by Executive Committee members and DDCA to maintain accounts, cash registers, bills and balancesheet.

The administrator for proper functioning of DDCA was appointed during the ongoing hearing of a 2010 petition of the cricketing body seeking occupancy certificate from South Delhi Municipal Corporation to hold matches at the Ferozshah Kotla ground.

While upholding the amendments and directing their incorporation in DDCA’s AoA, the bench disposed the petition.

 

Arvind Kejriwal opposes a second Rs 10 cr defamation suit in Delhi High Court.

Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Monday opposed a second Rs 10 crore defamation suit against him brought by Union Minister Arun Jaitley in the Delhi High Court over the use of an “objectionable” word by his former lawyer Ram Jethmalani.

Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal claimed before Justice Manmohan that he had never instructed his former counsel to use any scandalous words against Jaitley during recording of his evidence.

Jaitley had filed the second defamation suit after Jethmalani allegedly “abused” him in the open court during the proceedings of the original defamation suit he had filed against the AAP chief and five other party functionaries.

The chief minister, however, maintained that apart from the ground of “absolute privilege, the present suit is also barred by Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act”.

“The statement, upon which the suit is based on alleged defamatory imputations made by the senior advocate (without any oath), allegedly on the instructions of the defendant (Kejriwal), which he could not have disclosed,” Kejriwal said in his written statement filed through advocate Anupam Srivastava.

Section 126 of the Evidence Act bars disclosure of any professional communication between an advocate and his client including instructions given by the client in relation to his case.

During the cross-examination of the minister on May 17 last year before Joint Registrar in the Delhi High Court, Jethmalani had used a term Jaitley found objectionable.

The second suit filed through advocate Manik Dogra has said that the minister enjoyed a reputation of honesty and probity and had sacrificed large professional earnings in order to undertake public service.

The AAP leaders had accused the BJP leader of corruption during the latter’s term as president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA)—that the minister held from 2000 to 2013.

Jaitley, who had denied all allegations levelled by the AAP leaders in December 2015, had filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and five other leaders of his party, claiming they had made “false and defamatory” statements in the case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation. PTI

HC to pass order on DDCA reforms

 The Delhi High Court today said it will pass an order to usher in reforms at the controversy-ridden Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) after its general body rejected a majority of amendments on good governance, including abolition of ‘proxy votes’, proposed by a court-appointed Administrator.

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and A K Chawla reserved its decision after it was informed that DDCA’s general body, at a meeting held in September last year, had in a resolution rejected almost all the amendments proposed by the Administrator, former Supreme Court judge Vikramajit Sen.

The amendments were based on the recommendations of the apex court appointed Justice R M Lodha committee on the IPL controversy for reform in the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the high court noted.

Apart from being against abolishing of the proxy vote system of the past, the cricketing body’s members had also opposed the issue of 1000 complimentary passes for matches to be held at Feroz Shah Kotla grounds that the Administrator had allowed.

The lawyers for some of the DDCA members told the bench today that the number should be cut down to around 200 as otherwise it would not be profitable for them.

The Administrator for proper functioning of DDCA was appointed during the ongoing hearing of a 2010 petition of the cricketing body seeking occupancy certificate from South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to hold matches at the Ferozshah Kotla stadium.

Jaitley’s suit based on heresay evidence: Kejriwal

Jaitley's suit based on heresay evidence: Kejriwal
Jaitley’s suit based on heresay evidence: Kejriwal

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today told the Delhi High Court that Union Minister Arun Jaitley’s second defamation suit against him over the usage of ‘scandalous’ words by his former counsel was based on heresay and thus was inadmissible as evidence for fresh action.

Jaitley’s counsel, however, termed as “belated” the chief minister’s denial that he had not instructed his former lawyer Ram Jethmalani to use defamatory words against the BJP leader.

Kejriwal made the submission before Justice Manmohan, who is also hearing his separate application urging the court to strike down Jaitley’s response to his defamation suit of Rs 10 crore after the latter’s counsel confirmed that the words against the union minister were used following instructions.

The court reserved its order on this application.

Kejriwal’s lawyer, senior counsel Anoop George Chaudhari and advocate Anupam Srivastava, told the court that the “averments in the plaint (filed by Jaitley) in regards to the use of defamatory words…said to be uttered, as stated by the senior counsel for the defendant (Kejriwal), are nothing but heresay.

“Under the Indian Evidence Act heresay evidence is inadmissible, therefore the plaint is liable be rejected as entirely based upon inadmissible heresay evidence, as disclosed in the plaint,” he added.

Senior counsel Rajiv Nayar and advocate Manik Dogra, appearing for the union minister, contended that the Aam Aadmi Party leader has neither substantiated his claim that he did not instruct his former lawyer to use such words, nor did he initiate any action against Jethmalani for using scandalous words without his permission.

Kejriwal also said the objectionable words were used by Jethmalani on his own.

The chief minister in his application also said that he was not present in the court on the said date of hearing.

“Thus in regard to the use of words… no cause of action arises and thus no cause of action has been disclosed,” the application said.

The court has fixed the application for further hearing on December 14 after the counsel for Jaitley said he does not wish to file a reply to it.

Jethmalani, who in September announced his retirement from over seven-decade long career as an advocate, had used the words while cross-examining the Union Minister in a separate Rs 10 crore defamation case filed by the BJP leader against the AAP convenor and five others of the party in 2015.

The AAP leaders in December 2015 had levelled charges of corruption against Jaitley in connection with alleged financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).

Jaitley has denied all the allegations and also claimed that these had harmed his reputation.

In response to Kejriwal’s denial, the BJP leader had termed as an “afterthought” and “a belated attempt” the July 20 letter written by Kejriwal to Jethmalani stating that he had not instructed him to use defamatory words against Jaitley.

With regard to Kejriwal’s claim that the “statements made during judicial proceedings are even otherwise protected by absolute privilege”, Jaitley has said no such privilege can be claimed by a person who instructed his lawyer to insult or use defamatory language against a witness.

Jaitley has claimed he is entitled to the relief sought by him and the suit be decreed in his favour.

( Source -PTI )

Ex-TV anchor, AAP leader wants Jaitley to testify in Hindi

Aam Aadmi Party leader and former TV anchor Ashutosh today moved a city court seeking re-examination of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in vernacular Hindi in a defamation case filed by the BJP leader against him, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and others in the DDCA row.

The former journalist, who has himself been putting forth AAP’s views in Hindi and English news channels with equal elan, moved the plea before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat, saying Jaitely be directed to testify again, now in Hindi, as the law mandated.

He claimed that as per law, the proceedings in Delhi courts should be conducted in either English or Hindi whichever language the litigants and counsel can understand.

Ashutosh has also sought video and audio recordings of the court proceedings while referring to the earlier hearing in which chaotic scenes were witnessed after a lawyer had allegedly threatened another counsel inside the courtroom.

The court reserved the order on the pleas for October 27.

It also granted exemption to Kejriwal, AAP leader Raghav Chadha and others from personal appearance for the day after they referred to their political engagements.

Jaitley had on August 5 charged Kejriwal with making a series of false, scandalous and defamatory allegations, with regard to the alleged controversy, claiming that it had adversely affected his reputation.

Kejriwal and others had accused Jaitley of financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which he was the president from 2000 to 2013, leading the minister to lodge defamation cases against them.

Kejriwal, Ashutosh, Chaddha, along with other AAP leaders Sajay Singh, Kumar Vishwas and Deepak Bajpai, were on March 25 put on trial in the case.

The notice was framed against the accused under section 500 (punishment for defamation) of the IPC to which they had pleaded not guilty and claimed trial.

Jaitley had filed the complaint alleging that the accused had defamed him in a controversy regarding Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) which he headed for over a decade.

A civil defamation suit was also filed by Jaitley before the Delhi High Court in the matter seeking Rs 10 crore as damages.

Ex-TV anchor, AAP leader wants Jaitley to testify in Hindi( Source – PTI )

Delhi HC dismisses Raghav Chadha’s plea on retweets

Delhi HC dismisses Raghav Chadha's plea on retweets
Delhi HC dismisses Raghav Chadha’s plea on retweets

In a setback to AAP leader Raghav Chadha, the Delhi High Court today dismissed “as devoid of merit” his plea that he cannot be made to face a criminal case only for retweeting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s tweet against Union Minister Arun Jaitley in the DDCA row.

Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal also rejected Chadha’s argument that the case against him fell under the ambit of the Information Technology Act and not the Indian Penal Code and added that the trial court’s decision to summon him was a “well reasoned order”.

The trial court had summoned him as an accused in a criminal defamation case filed by Jaitley against him and five other AAP leaders, including Kejriwal.

On whether retweeting would constitute an offence of defamation under section 499 of IPC, the high court said it was a question that has to be determined in the totality of the circumstances and have to be decided during the trial.

“It is not for this court, while exercising the inherent powers under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to go into the merits of the case,” it said.

The high court also observed that that it cannot embark upon weighing of evidence and arriving at a conclusion to hold whether the allegations in the complaint by Jaitley shall constitute an offence of defamation, which entails a maximum punishment of two year jail term under section 500 IPC.

It, however, noted in its 23-page order that a perusal of the complaint and the statements of witnesses examined by Jaitley “depict that the petitioner (Chadha) along with other accused persons participated in press conference, issued derogatory statements orally, used twitter handles, retweeted, disseminated, defamatory imputations targeting the complainant through platform of press and media from December 15, 2015 onwards and continued till December 20, 2015 after the sleuths of CBI went to Delhi secretariat for conducting a search”.

“The said acts, aimed/targeted at the complainant and his family members, attracted adverse attention of the public,” the high court said.

Apart from Chadha and Kejriwal, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai are also accused in the criminal defamation case filed by the BJP leader.

It went on to observe that there was sufficient material on record to show that Chadha is a spokesperson of AAP of which the other accused are office-bearers and functionaries.

The high court said the material on record also showed that he belonged to a close-knit group and “followed Accused 1 (Kejriwal) to carry out the entire campaign using press conference, post on facebook, tweet and retweet as a platform to reach a large number of people”.

It said the trial court summoned Chadha after “careful scrutiny” of all relevant material by passing a “well reasoned order” that a prima facie case was made out against him and there were sufficient grounds for summoning him and face trial under sections 499 and 500 of IPC.

The case came to the high court at the direction of the Supreme Court which had on September 15 asked it to decide by September 25, the AAP leader’s plea against the trial court’s order summoning him as an accused.

Chadha had moved the apex court against the high court’s July 11 order refusing to stay the lower court proceedings against him in the defamation matter.

Kejriwal and other AAP leaders are facing a criminal defamation suit after they had alleged that Jaitley was allegedly involved in corrupt practices when he was the president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), a post he had held from 2000 to 2013.

Jaitley, who had denied all the allegations levelled by the AAP leaders in December 2015, had also filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and others, claiming they had made “false and defamatory” statements in the case, thereby harming his reputation.

( Source – PTI )

Defamation case by Jaitley: SC asks Delhi HC to decide Chadha’s plea

Defamation case by Jaitley: SC asks Delhi HC to decide Chadha's plea
Defamation case by Jaitley: SC asks Delhi HC to decide Chadha’s plea

The Supreme Court today asked the Delhi High Court to decide by September 25 the plea of AAP leader Raghav Chadha against a trial court order summoning him as an accused in the criminal defamation case filed by union minister Arun Jaitley.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the parties shall appear before the high court on September 18 with a copy of the apex court’s order and the matter shall be argued on September 19.

“We are only inclined to request the single judge of the high court to prepone the date of hearing and finalise the petition filed under section 482 CrPC on or before September 25,” the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Chadha, told the apex court that the high court had listed the matter for hearing in October and not stayed the proceedings going on before the trial court.

He alleged that he had not sought any adjournment before the high court but it was “put into my mouth that I have sought adjournment for four weeks”.

“Videography should be ordered. Arguments cannot be recorded like this. This should not happen. It is very unfair,” Grover said.

Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the respondent, questioned Chadha’s move to approach the apex court against the high court’s order.

“If a judge finds that there is no ground and says I will hear it and fixes it for hearing, then where is the ground of appeal against this,” Rohatgi said.

Grover, however, raised objection on the arguments by Rohatgi and Luthra saying notice has not been issued on his plea and hence they should not argue.

The apex court on September 7 had agreed to hear Chadha’s plea in which he had alleged that he was made to face criminal defamation case only for retweeting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s tweet against Jaitley.

He had moved the apex court against the high court’s July 11 order which had refused to stay the proceedings in the lower court against him in the defamation matter and had posted his plea for hearing in October.

He had said in the plea that he had raised an important question of law before the high court as to whether the trial court could have summoned him without determining if the alleged defamatory statements, which were purpotedly made through Twitter, were covered under the penal provision of defamation under the IPC.

He had sought the apex court’s direction to high court to urgently hear the matter and consider the application for stay of proceedings before the trial court.

Kejriwal and other AAP leaders – Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai – are facing a criminal defamation suit after they claimed that Jaitley was allegedly involved in corrupt practices when he was the president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), a post he had held from 2000 to 2013.

Jaitley, who had denied all the allegations levelled by the AAP leaders in December 2015, had also filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and others, claiming they had made “false and defamatory” statements in the case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.

( Source – PTI )

Jaitley opposes Kejriwal’s plea to summon DDCA records in Delhi HC

Jaitley opposes Kejriwal's plea to summon DDCA records in Delhi HC
Jaitley opposes Kejriwal’s plea to summon DDCA records in Delhi HC

Union Minister Arun Jaitley has opposed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea in the Delhi High Court seeking summoning of the minutes of meetings of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) held during 1999-2014.

Kejriwal had moved the fresh plea in a pending defamation suit filed by the union minister against him and five other AAP leaders seeking Rs 10 crore as damages from them for allegedly levelling “defamatory” allegations with regard to irregularities in DDCA during Jaitley’s tenure as its President.

64-year-old Jaitley, in his reply filed before Joint Registrar Pankaj Gupta of the High Court, said that Kejriwal’s application deserved to be dismissed as he has been trying to delay the proceedings in the lawsuit by filing “frivolous” pleas, including the current one.

He has said the fresh plea was “not only a dilatory tactic but clearly a roving and fishing expedition”.

The Delhi chief minister has sought summoning of the minutes of the meetings held by the General Body and the Executive Committee or Board of Directors of the DDCA between 1999 and 2014. Jaitley was the DDCA President from 2000 to 2013.

Kejriwal, in his application filed through advocate Anupam Srivastava, has said he wished to cross-examine Jaitley in the suit, whose hearing had witnessed a high drama when his former counsel and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani had used some “objectionable and scandalous” words against the senior BJP leader.

Jethmalani, who has now stopped representing Kejriwal in the case, recently wrote letters alleging that those words were spoken at the instruction of the chief minister and his former client had hurled worse abuses against Jaitely in their meetings.

Jaitley, who holds Finance and Defence portfolios, filed his reply through advocate Manik Dogra and said the Civil Procedure Code provided that if Kejriwal wanted to summon a witness or the records, he must mention them in his list of witnesses.

The list of witnesses was required to be filed within 15 days after the court framed issues to be decided in the suit.

Jaitley said “it is admitted position that the defendant (Kejriwal) in his list of witnesses has not mentioned any such witness whom he wants to be summoned to produce the record of DDCA.”

He said it was “evident that Kejriwal made per se defamatory statements against the plaintiff (and his family members). He (Kejriwal) earlier claimed that his statements were on the basis of documents available with him.

“It is abundantly clear that there was no basis for the defendant to have made said defamatory statements and he is now searching for sundry documents to buttress his defence”.

Jethmalani’s statement that scandalous words were used at the instance of Kejriwal, led to the filing of a separate Rs 10 crore civil defamation suit against the Chief Minister.

After this, Kejriwal had told the court that he had not instructed Jethmalani to use “scandalous” words against the union minister.

Following this, Jaitley moved an application to expedite the recording of evidence in an orderly and fair manner of his first defamation suit against Kejriwal and others.

During the hearing, Justice Manmohan had warned Kejriwal against asking any “offensive and scandalous” questions to Jaitley.

The court had also asked his new counsel to give an undertaking that no objectionable and offensive questions would be put to Jaitley during the cross-examination slated on August 28.

Besides Kejriwal, the five other accused in the suit are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai. The AAP leaders had accused the BJP leader of corruption as the DDCA President.

Jaitley had denied all the allegations by the AAP leaders in December 2015 and had filed a civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and the others, claiming they had made “false and defamatory” statements in a case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.

( Source – PTI )

DDCA urges HC not to consider replies of Kejriwal, Kirti Azad

DDCA has urged Delhi High Court not to take on record the replies of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and cricketer-turned-MP Kirti Azad to its defamation suit seeking Rs two-and-half crore each as damages from them, as these have been filed late.

Kejriwal and suspended BJP MP Azad are facing defamation suit filed by the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) for alleged defamatory criticism of the functioning and finances of the cricket body.

The DDCA, while seeking that the written submissions of the two politicians in the civil suit should not be considered, has told the court that while Kejriwal was late by 16 days, Azad has filed his response after almost 70 days of the stipulated period.

High Court’s Joint Registrar Anil Kumar Sisodia, who presides over the procedural aspects of a civil suit before it is heard in a court, has reserved its order for February 3 on the issue whether the replies would be taken on record or not.

Kejriwal and Azad have filed separate applications seeking condonation of delays in filing their respective written statements in the defamation suit.

DDCA, represented by advocate Sangram Patnaik, submitted that the Registrar’s court on March 2 last year had granted 30 days time to them to file written statements.

The counsel for Kejriwal submitted that since the Chief Minister was busy, the delay in filing his reply should be condoned. Azad’s counsel said the MP was busy in Parliament, so his reply should also be accepted and the delay condoned.

DDCA had earlier alleged that Kejriwal “with prior motive, indulged in certain false, shocking, scandalous, defamatory, baseless, slanderous, malicious, disgraceful and outrageous statements which are defamatory against them”.

The cricketing body had also said that statements against DDCA were made to create a serious dent on its image and a “notion of public outcry”.

DDCA has also claimed that the allegations regarding financial irregularities and corruption in selections at junior level were “maligning the image” of the cricket body.