Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk:Continuing with his string of apologies in defamation cases, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today expressed regret to Union minister Arun Jaitley after which they moved joint pleas before the Delhi High Court and the trial court to “settle” their over two-year long litigation.
The unconditional apology by the chief of Delhi’s ruling Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) and others has been accepted by the union finance minister, according to the lawyers of the two leaders.
Kejriwal,earlier apologised to Union minister Nitin Gadkari and Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s lawyer son Amit, who had filed defamation suits and complaints against him for levelling “unverified” allegations.
The apology spree started last month with Kejriwal expressing regret to Akali Dal leader and former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia for accusing him of drugs trade.
Several criminal defamation cases against Kejriwal are still pending. The cases include those filed by Pawan Khera, the then political secretary to former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, lawyer Surender Kumar Sharma, BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri, UP minister Chetan Chauhan and Delhi’s cricket body DDCA.
The list also includes defamation cases filed by a Delhi Police constable and BJP youth wing leader Ankit Bhardwaj.
While in the high court, Jaitley had filed a civil defamation suit in December 2015 claiming Rs 10 crore as damages, he had also lodged a criminal defamation case against Kejriwal for his remarks relating to alleged large-scale financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) during his tenure as the president of the cricket body.
Both the high court and the trial court have listed the matters for hearing on Tuesday.
Along with Kejriwal, five other AAP leaders — Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha, Ashutosh, Deepak Bajpai and Kumar Vishwas were facing proceedings in both the high court and the trial court.
While all those facing these proceedings tendered unconditional apology, Vishwas has not yet done so and hence, the proceedings will continue against him.
According to the first joint application in the high court, apart from Kejriwal, other AAP leaders — Chadha, Singh, Ashutosh and Bajpai — have tendered an “unqualified” apology for their statements against Jaitley and his family members in connection with the irregularities in DDCA and also “unequivocally” withdrawn their allegations.
“Plaintiff accepts the apology and does not wish to further prosecute the suit (against the five AAP leaders),” the application said.
With regard to the second defamation case against the AAP supremo, the application said that “defendant (Kejriwal) has categorically stated that disparaging and malicious statements made by Ram Jethmalani were without his knowledge and/or instructions”.
“In view of the categorical statement by defendant, plaintiff (Jaitley) does not wish to prosecute the suit,” the application said regarding the second Rs 10 crore defamation case.
The application said that “each of the accused (Kejriwal, Singh, Raghav Chadha, Ashutosh and Deepak Bajpai) have unequivocally withdrawn all the allegations made by them in print, electronic or social media against the complainant and his family members. “Further they have offered their sincere apology to the complainant and his family members for any harm caused to the complainant’s reputation as a consequence of the allegation made by the said accused.
“The complainant has accepted the apology tendered by the accused and in view thereof does not wish to proceed with the aforementioned complaint against the said accused.”
The joint application in the high court was mentioned before Justice Manmohan by advocates Manik Dogra and Anupam Srivastava, who appeared for Jaitley and Kejriwal, respectively. The high court agreed to list the matter for hearing before the appropriate bench tomorrow if no technical objection is raised by the registry.
In the trial court, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal said the court will take up the application, filed by Jaitley and Kejriwal through their respective counsels, tomorrow.
On February 20, Kejriwal had concluded his cross-examination of Jaitley in the first defamation suit. The proceedings in the cross-examination was termed by the high court as “malicious” and “a sheer mockery”.
The cross examination of Jaitley by Kejriwal, which had begun in March 2017, ended on February 20 after more than 300 questions were put to the union minister over around 11 days. The proceedings had also witnessed the high court raising serious objections against the manner in which questions were being put to the BJP leader .