Jaitley not to withdraw defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to withdraw the defamation case filed against Aam Aadmi Party Supremo Arvind Kejriwal, according to sources.

Instead, the legal team of Arun Jaitley, himself a lawyer, will mention the matter before the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court today.

Jaitley wants a legal settlement in which the allegations made by Kejriwal are stated to be false. If the case is withdrawn, there will be no such legal settlement.

Jaitley had filed criminal and civil defamation suits against Kejriwal for saying that he was engaged in financial irregularities and bungling as the president of the Delhi & District Cricket Association.

A criminal case is in process in a district court in Delhi, while another civil suit for compensation of Rs 10 cr is also under trial separately.

Kejriwal has been making apologies to those who have filed defamation cases against him, including Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari and Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

Whether Jaitley accepts the apology or not, the Court can take cognizance of Kejriwal’s willingness to publicly accept his mistake, and accordingly decide on the quantum of punishment, or even let the person walk free.

Under the Indian Penal Code, it is a crime to make a statement against any person or company that “directly or indirectly, in the estimation of others, lowers the moral or intellectual character of that person, or lowers the character of that person in respect of his caste or of his calling, or lowers the credit of that person, or causes it to be believed that the body of that person is in a loathsome state, or in a state generally considered as disgrace­ful.”

Even if the allegations are true, it is still considered defamation; and the person whose reputation is injured is eligible to seek compensation, while the person who made the accusations can still be put in jail.

However, if the defendant can prove that the allegation is true and also disclosed in public interest, he or she cannot be punished for defamation.

A clutch of lawyers and free-speech activists had conducted a multi-year litigation to have the defamation laws stricken. However, two years ago, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant held the provisions to be valid.