A Delhi court on Saturday slapped a fine of Rs 2,500 each on former chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Manish Sisodia after they failed to appear before it in a criminal defamation case.
Kejriwal and Sisodia were summoned by the court of metropolitan magistrate (MM) Sunil Kumar Sharma on Saturday in a case filed by senior advocate and Union telecom minister Kapil Sibal's son Amit Sibal, who told the court that with a single statement Kejriwal tainted his reputation, which had taken a lifetime of sweat and blood to build.
Kejriwal sought exemption from personal appearance saying that he was on the campaign trail in Bangalore, while Sisodia said he had to rush to Amethi, allegedly to investigate reports that members of AAP, including Kumar Vishwas had been attacked and had sustained injuries.
Although the court granted them exemption from appearance for the day, it imposed the fine saying that the matter was fixed for Saturday "as per the convenience of the Kejriwal and Sisodia and their counsels".
The other accused members of AAP, Prashant Bhushan and Shazia Ilmi, refused to furnish a bail bond and argued on the point for over an hour.
Despite objections from Sibal's advocates, the court noted that defamation was a bailable offence and released the AAP members on the basis of a personal undertaking to appear before it next time.
During the hearing, Bhushan said that the Supreme Court was also scheduled to hear Sibal’s appeal in the same case on April 9, and as such the trial court should fix a hearing after that date. The court slotted April 19th to hear the case.
Kejriwal, Ilmi, Bhushan and Sisodia were summoned by the court on July 26, 2013 on charges of defamation when Amit Sibal filed a complaint against Kejriwal for stating during a press conference held on May 15 that Vodafone had received favorable treatment from the government due to nepotism arising from the relationship between the telecom company’s counsel Amit and his father Kapil Sibal.