Published On: Thu, Mar 10th, 2016

Kejriwal’s statements lowered Jaitley’s reputation: Court

New Delhi: Noting that the statements by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other Aam Admi Party leaders have exposed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to ‘ridicule, hatred and contempt amongst, the right thinking members of the society and lowered his reputation’, Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass on Wednesday directed them to appear before the court on April 7.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had filed a criminal defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders after they accused him of siphoning off funds during his tenure as DDCA chief.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had filed a criminal defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders after they accused him of siphoning off funds during his tenure as DDCA chief.

While summoning the six accused – Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and AAP members Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai, the Metropolitan Magistrate observed the freedom of speech and expression is not an absolute right, but one that is hedged with reasonable restrictions, with the law of defamation being the primary one. “The language of public discourse ought to be within the confines of decency, if it transgresses those limits and becomes insulting, offensive and laced with innuendos, same may amount to defamation and become actionable at the end of the person aggrieved.”

“The statements have exposed the complainant to ridicule, hatred and contempt amongst, the right thinking members of the society and lowered his reputation,” the court noted.

“The complainant had, also through the testimony of Ravinder Manchanda and Rajneesh Kumar Singh, proved on record that while he was the president of the DDCA, the accounts were duly audited/ approved by Annual General Meeting (AGM) – submitted with taxation authorities, and the fact that he has no association with M/s 21st Century Media Pvt, Ltd. also assists him on this aspect – points out about the falsity of; the allegations levelled by the accused. This- strengthens the probative worth of the complainant’s version,” the court observed.

“Further, the exhortation by the respondents as to sharing of the statements also strengthens the inference of common intention of the accused, the defamatory allegations as levelled on the Facebook post and print media were intended to be read/shared by the maximum number of persons, the allegations resonating through the social media by tweets and re-tweets, all points out to the synchronised pattern, in quick succession of time and which also probabilise the existence of common intention,” the court observed.

Issuing the direction, the Metropolitan Magistrate observed “considering the aforesaid facts and circumstances, and taking a prima facie view, in my opinion there are sufficient grounds to summon accused persons namely Arvind Kejriwal, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chadha, Peepak Bajpai for the offence.”

Earlier, appearing for Jaitley, senior counsel Siddharth Luthra told the court that the accused, in a very calculated and concerted manner, unleashed a frenzied media campaign and directed a volley of defamatory allegations so as to tarnish the reputation and integrity of the complainant.

The order came on Jaitley’s criminal defamation complaint, in which he had said that Kejriwal and the five AAP members had defamed him in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.

ANI

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