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Don’t ask indecent questions: Delhi HC tells Kejriwal in Jaitley defamation case

The Delhi high court is hearing an application moved by the Union minister to expedite the recording of evidence in an orderly and fair manner in the civil defamation suit filed against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders in 2015.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2017 22:13 IST
Soibam Rocky Singh
Soibam Rocky Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Arvind Kejriwal‬,‪Ram Jethmalani‬,‪Arun Jaitley‬
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Union minister Arun Jaitley have been locked in a court battle since 2015 with Jaitley accusing Kejriwal of libel.(HT File Photo)

The Delhi high court on Wednesday warned chief minister Arvind Kejriwal against asking “indecent” questions to Union minister Arun Jaitley during cross-examination in a defamation suit against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader.

Justice Manmohan said expressions used by Kejriwal’s former counsel Ram Jethmalani during the cross-examination, such as “crook”, were “indecent, scandalous and abusive” which lowered the decorum of the court room.

“You are using words such as crook. Does it fall in free speech? Are you aware that this is an unparliamentary word,” the judge said.

“No person can be subject to such indecent, offensive, scandalous, abusive questions in the garb of cross-examination,” the judge said, adding, “It’s uncalled for. This is not the way to conduct the cross-examination”.

“This court is of the view that liberty of free speech cannot be used to make unaccounted statements,” the judge said, warning Kejriwal that any further scandalous questions during the cross-examination will not be tolerated.

The judge said he will transfer the case from the joint registrar to a bench of the high court if he finds even an “iota” of indecent questions by Kejriwal’s counsel.

The court, which was hearing an application moved by the Union minister to expedite the recording of evidence in an orderly and fair manner, allowed Kejriwal’s new counsel Anoop George Chaudhary to go through the documents and posted the hearing in the defamation suit for hearing on August 28.

In a related development, a Joint Registrar of the High Court Wednesday imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on Kejriwal after he failed to file his response on a Rs 10 crore defamation suit filed by Jaitley over use of objectionable word allegedly by the CM’s lawyer.

During the hearing, senior advocate Chaudhary told the court that Kejriwal has never instructed Jethmalani to use such words.

Reacting to it, senior counsel Rajiv Nayar, appearing for Jaitley, said Jethmalani should submit an affidavit to clarify the issue. Nayar pressed for a complaint against Jethmalani before the Bar Council of India (BCI) for insulting his client without instructions from Kejriwal.

The court, however, declined to pass orders today. It said Jaitley can file a separate complaint seeking action against Jethmalani if required.

In December 2015, Jaitley had filed a civil defamation suit against Kejriwal and five AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee, claiming that they made “false and defamatory” statements in the case involving the DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.

First Published: Jul 26, 2017 16:50 IST