Arvind Kejriwal will stand trial for alleged “criminal defamation” of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley after the Supreme Court on Tuesday turned down the Delhi chief minister’s plea for staying the case in a lower court.
Kejriwal had said the trial court should not proceed with the criminal defamation complaint until the Delhi high court gave its verdict on a civil defamation suit, also filed by Jaitley.
Jaitley had slapped the defamation cases after Kejriwal and other AAP leaders accused him of irregularities while he was the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) president.
Jaitley is seeking Rs 10 crore as damages from Kejriwal in the civil case. Criminal defamation cases carry a maximum punishment of two years in jail.
The HC had on October 19 dismissed Kejriwal’s petition seeking similar relief, holding there was no “illegality” in continuing the cases simultaneously.
“We shall not interfere. In the facts and circumstances of the case no intervention is required,” a Supreme Court bench of justices PC Ghose and UU Lalit said, rejecting the plea by Kejriwal’s advocate, Ram Jethmalani, that the issue raised was the first of its kind and top court must lay down a law.
No arguments were made by attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, who represented Jaitley since the top court dismissed the matter without issuing a notice.
Jethmalani urged the bench to entertain the appeal against the HC verdict, saying it must protect the chief minister of a “small state”.
“The mighty finance minister is against the poor chief minister,” he said. But, the bench cut him short and asked Jethmalani to confine to the facts of the case.
The bench also prevented Jethmalani from raking up the on-going controversy over judicial appointments and asked him twice to argue only on the case.