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Sisodia says Jethmalani fee issue raked up to divert attention from EVM controversy

Delhi’s deputy chief minister defends his boss who is fighting a defamation case filed against him by union finance minister Arun Jaitley.

delhi Updated: Apr 04, 2017 15:50 IST
Vishal Kant
Vishal Kant
Hindustan Times
Arvind Kejriwal,Kejriwal defamation case,Ram Jethmalani
Lawyer Ram Jethmalani has said he can appear for Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal free of cost if he can’t pay. (HT Photo)

The Delhi government defended on Tuesday its decision to pay from the state exchequer the fees of senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who has been appearing in court for Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal in a defamation case filed by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley.

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the government should be bearing the cost as the defamation case is related to the ‘inquiry initiated by the state government against the alleged corruption in Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA).

Speaking to reporters at his residence on Mathura Road, Sisodia also questioned the timing of raising the issue saying ‘it was aimed at diverting attention from the controversy surrounding EVM tampering”.

“The government had initiated inquiry against corruption in DDCA. People, who are involved in it, have filed the (defamation) case. Why should (Delhi chief minister) Arvind Kejriwal pay the bills in personal capacity?” said Sisodia, even as he refused to take any questions on the issue.

Sisodia was reacting to reports of the Delhi government seeking lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s approval to allegedly pay about Rs 3 crore towards the bills raised by Jethmalani for defending Kejriwal in court.

Jethmalani, on the other hand, told ANI earlier on Tuesday that he is ready to appear for Kejriwal free of cost if he can’t pay.

In December, Sisodia had asked for the release of appearance fee to Jethmalani, who is fighting a defamation case slapped against Kejriwal by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, sources said.

However, the law department of Delhi government raised concerns over paying the bill and the matter was referred to Baijal for his approval. News agency PTI reported that Baijal is consulting solicitor general Ranjit Kumar for his advice on whether the government should pay up.

First Published: Apr 04, 2017 14:19 IST