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