Union finance minister Arun Jaitley’s defamation suit lists out hundreds of tweets, press statements and TV clips with transcripts in as many as 217 pages, as he appeared in the chief metropolitan magistrate court in Patiala House, New Delhi on Tuesday. He claimed that Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his five AAP associates coordinated and cooperated to defame him and his family members.
In a courtroom packed with lawyers and associates, Jaitley stood on an elevated platform in front of the judge, Sanjay Khanagwal as he claimed “The six accused made/published in close co-operation and coordination with each other and with a common intention and knowledge a series of statements, which are ex facie false and defamatory towards me and members of my family.” He went on to add that, “Since the accused are all in public life and are educated, journalists and professionals, these statements are false to their knowledge.” Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra along with counsels Manoj Taneja and Manik Dogra represented Jaitley in court. Senior journalist Rajat Sharma was also present in court to submit statements supporting Jaitley’s claim.
At 2 pm, the finance minister entered the court premises amid heavy security. Jaitley walked through a roped corridor flanked by officials from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and VIP security officials. The main shutters leading to courtroom number 4 were closed and entry was barred to all except lawyers and associates. BJP supporters who had turned up in vast numbers protested against the denial of their admission and even tried to break through the security cordon. However, a lucky few senior BJP leaders who came to offer support were allowed entry. In a sharp contrast from the last hearing where almost the entire BJP cabinet turned up to offer support, on Tuesday, State Minister for Power Piyush Goel, MLAs R P Singh and Om Prakash Sharma, former Delhi Mayor Arti Mehra and others were the few who were present in court.
During the recording of his statement that lasted over an hour, Jaitley claimed that the defamatory statements were made to deflect attention from a CBI investigation against a civil servant working under Kejriwal. In response to the allegations of financial regularities made during his tenure as the president of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA), he claimed that “In my 13-year tenure as DDCA president, I have not received, directly or indirectly, a single rupee from the (DDCA) association on any account whatsoever.” Jaitley also claimed that he had “not even charged any amount towards expenditure.”
Rajat Sharma, whose association with Jaitley spans more than four decades, submitted statements substantiating Jaitley’s charge. “Deeply disturbed about the nature of the false allegations made against him (Jaitley) and being in the media..aware that such allegations can cause harm and destroy the reputation of any respectable person.”
The recording of the statements took more than two hours and at 4pm, the court was adjourned. Submission of evidence will continue on February 3, when additional witnesses are slated to appear on behalf of Jaitley.