Delhi court summons Vijender Gupta in defamation case by Kailash Gahlot
A Delhi court on Monday summoned BJP leader Vijender Gupta as accused in a criminal defamation case filed by city transport minister Kailash Gahlot for alleged remarks over the procurement of 1,000 low-floor buses by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).
Additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) Ravindra Kumar Pandey said on the basis of the submissions and evidences, prima facie the offence has been committed by Gupta.
In his complaint, Gahlot has alleged that Gupta “intentionally and for malafide purposes” defamed him and tarnished his reputation to gain political mileage by alleging irregularities in the procurement of buses for DTC.
He said Gupta levelled “defamatory, scandalous, mischievous, false and scurrilous allegations” verbally as well as in writing. The complaint further alleged that Gupta posted defamatory statements and other materials against Gahlot on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.
The court, while issuing summons to Gupta, gave him time till November 16 to respond to the suit.
“The order of summoning me has been passed after the pre-summoning stage which is a very routine procedure. My side is yet to be heard,” Gupta said.
Gahlot filed separate civil and criminal defamation suits against Gupta in August, seeking ₹5 crore in damages and sought removal of media posts by the BJP legislator regarding alleged irregularities in procurement of public buses.
The Union government has recommended a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the purchase of 1,000 buses by the Delhi government, and a maintenance contract for them.
On August 20, Gupta tweeted about the CBI inquiry. “CBI investigation started in DTC bus purchase scam. Dismiss transport minister Kailash Gahlot and arrest him. The Kejriwal government has tried its best to suppress the corruption of ₹5000 crore. Why did the Aam Aadmi Party leaders remain silent in the bus purchase scam?”, he tweeted. He posted the same on his Facebook account.
On August 28, the Delhi high court declined to grant ex parte interim relief to Gahlot in his civil defamation plea.
HT reported on July 11 that the LG-appointed panel gave a clean chit to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) in the tendering and procurement of the buses, although it found some “procedural lapses” arising out of “a bona fide decision making”.
On July 12, Gupta wrote to lieutenant governor Anil Baijal demanding a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in procurement of buses.
A three-member committee that probed the matter recommended scrapping the tender of the AMC (annual maintenance contract) of buses after finding various “lapses”, Gupta said. There has been “irrefutable evidence of irregularities and violations in the AMC bid”, he stated, while also alleging “criminal conspiracy and connivance” in the whole process.