The Delhi high court on Monday reserved its order on chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea to stay the trial court proceedings in a criminal defamation case filed against him and other Aam Aadmi Party leaders by finance minister Arun Jaitley.
Justice PS Teji reserved the judgement after the counsel for both the parties concluded their arguments on the plea challenging the trial court’s May 19 order turning down the chief minister’s request to adjourn hearing on the criminal defamation case till the high court decided the civil suit before it.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Kejriwal, submitted that there were two cases — one civil and the other criminal — filed against the AAP leaders on the same allegations and the trial court should have stayed the proceedings in the matter, but it declined.
“The trial court judge had said that he has no power to stay the proceedings,” Jethmalani said. “Power to stay can be exercised by postponing the matter also.”
Opposing the contention, senior advocates Harish Salve and Siddharth Luthra, representing Jaitley, said that in “today’s world, the words used are more powerful than sword”.
“No prejudice would be caused to the AAP leaders if both the civil suit before the high court and the criminal proceedings before the trial court go contemporaneously,” Luthra said.
Jaitley has filed a criminal defamation complaint alleging that Kejriwal and AAP leaders Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai defamed him in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.
On April 7, the trial court granted bail to Kejriwal and the others.
Jaitley had on December 21, 2015, filed the criminal defamation case against the AAP leaders and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of up to two years in jail.
Besides the criminal defamation case, Jaitley has also filed a civil defamation suit in the high court seeking Rs 10 crore in damages from Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family in connection with alleged irregularities in the DDCA when he was its president.