Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday appeared in a lower court 30 minutes after the court reprimanded him for non-appearance in a criminal defamation case lodged against him and suspended BJP MP Kirti Azad by Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) and cricketer-turned-politician Chetan Chauhan for allegedly trying to tarnish the image of the cricketing body. The CM was later granted bail.
Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra insisted for Kejriwal’s presence in the court after Kejriwal’s counsel said that its causes a lot of inconvenience to the common people when the CM has to come to the court. He argued that there were several judgments that state that a person is eligible for exemption on the ground of inconvenience.
But the magistrate asked whether India is governed by criminal procedure code or convenience procedure code. “Only governors and President have special right to avoid court proceedings. A CM doesn’t have such special right. Kejriwal should appear before the court today,” the magistrate said.
The court then gave half an hour’s time for the chief minister to be present in the court. Around 3.40 pm, Kejriwal himself appeared in the court and was granted bail. He handed a bail bond of R 10,000 along with a surety of R 10,000.
The court had on February 18 granted personal exemption to Kejriwal on medical ground while Azad was granted bail. The court had asked Kejriwal to be present before the court on March 21 while it will hear arguments on framing of charges against them.
On Tuesday, an application has been moved by Kejriwal for dropping of proceedings against him. Another application seeking discharge is moved on behalf of Azad. The court has listed the matter for further hearing on April 1 at 2.30 pm, during which Kejriwal has to appear. On this day, the court is expected to go into the merits of the case, during which it will hear the replies and arguments on both the applications.
The DDCA in its plea has alleged that the defamatory statements were made by Kejriwal and Azad “to remain in the public eye and gain political mileage”.