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Summons to Delhi BJP chief, three party leaders over defamation plaint by DJB

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Dharmender Singh asked Adesh Gupta, MLAs Ramvir Singh Bidhuri and Vijendra Gupta , and Delhi BJP media relations in-charge Harish Khurana, to appear before him on November 27
In his complaint, Chadha said that the accused persons have been actively indulging in publishing and sharing false and defamatory statements/allegations on social media, hoardings, posters and other platforms. (Amal KS/HT Archive)
Updated on Nov 21, 2021 03:32 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A Delhi court has summoned Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta and three other party leaders in a criminal defamation complaint filed by the Delhi Jal Board and its vice chairman Raghav Chadha for allegedly calling the institution as “Dalali Jal Board” and accusing it of a 26,000 crore scam. The BJP leaders claimed they have the documents to prove the charges.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM) Dharmender Singh on November 18 asked Adesh Gupta, MLAs Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, and Vijendra Gupta , and Delhi BJP media relations in-charge Harish Khurana, to appear before him on November 27.

“This court is of the considered view that in the present case, there are sufficient grounds for proceedings against the respondents. In view of the allegations made in the complaint, testimonies of CW1 to CW4, and material brought on record by them, this court is prima facie satisfied that there are sufficient grounds for summoning all respondents as accused qua offence punishable u/s 500 (defamation) read/with section 34 IPC (common intention),” the judge said in its order.

The complaint was filed by DJB through its authorised representative Dalbir Singh; vice chairman Chadha; Vikram Singh, a legal intern at the board; and Manoj Tanwar, a social worker and member of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

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The complaint, filed through advocate Prashant Manchanda, contended that BJP leaders, at a press conference on January 21 and 23 this year, alleged that the DJB, Chadha and other members of the board committed a scam worth 26,000 crore. The plea also said that all of them referred to the DJB as “Dalali Jal Board” several times.

In his complaint, Chadha said that the accused persons have been actively indulging in publishing and sharing false and defamatory statements/allegations on social media, hoardings, posters and other platforms. The complaint also stated that Adesh Gupta, along with other BJP leaders, were trying to intentionally hinder and obstruct him in discharge of his official obligations by levelling false and malicious and defamatory allegations against the Board, the Chief Minister of Delhi and himself.

Taking note of the contentions, the court said that the DJB is an identifiable body and can file a defamation complaint even though it is not a natural person.

The court also noted that the respondents held two press conferences and posted tweets, in addition to using print media and making visual representations, alleging corruption.

The judge also said that instead of approaching the investigating agency competent to probe corruption cases, the respondents only levelled the allegations publicly.

The court noted that though Khurana had not made any defamatory statement, he was present on the dais along with other party members. “In this way, it is clear that all the respondents acted in furtherance of their common intention,” the court said in a 17-page order.

The BJP leaders, however, claimed that they have necessary documents “to support the claims made in the press conference”. “We will present all the facts before the court.We have also asked for an inquiry to look into the accounts of the DJB and probe the allegations of embezzlement of funds. The matter is coming up for hearing on November 29,” said Khurana.

Vijender Gupta said that he would challenge the order of summoning in the higher court.

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