New Delhi: A court here on Wednesday issued summons to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five others in a criminal defamation case filed by union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the wake of the DDCA controversy.
The court said the “allegations levelled by the Aam Aadmi Party leaders are derogatory in nature and amount to slander and libel”.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass issued summons to Kejriwal and other Aam Aadmi Party leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee, asking them to appear before it on April 7.
In its 30-page order, the court said the “reputation of a man is his greatest asset and it takes years to builds one’s reputation”.
“No one knows or realises this fact better than the people who hold public office or aspire for the same,” the court said.
“Summing up the statement — to call a person as corrupt/dishonest, one who indulges in financial bungling and having embezzled/siphoned off money to the tune of Rs.57 crore, calling him/equating him/drawing parallels with person who is involved in criminal cases, casting aspersions about his integrity, are not legitimate acts of criticism, but downright and per se defamatory in nature.”
“The allegations are not only insulting but jeeringly taunting and provocative,” the court said.
The court also said that the freedom of speech and expressions 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 disclosure ought to be within the confines of decency; if it transgresses those limits and becomes insulting, offensive, and laced with innuendos, the same may amount to defamation and become actionable at the end of the person aggrieved,” the court said.
“The statements have exposed the complainant (Jaitley) to ridicule, hatred and contempt amongst the right thinking members of society and lowered his reputation.”
The court noted that sharing of the statements also strengthens charges of common intention against the AAP leaders and said: ” …the defamatory statement 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.”
Jaitley, who filed the complaint against Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, told the court on January 5 that they had given “false and defamatory” statements against him in the Delhi and District Cricket Association case, thereby harming his reputation.
He said the AAP leaders made the statements with the intention to deflect attention from a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against a particular civil servant who was working with Kejriwal and against whom a third party had filed a complaint.
Jaitley has urged the court to initiate proceedings against Kejriwal and others on charge of defaming him.
The AAP leaders had accused Jaitley, who headed the DDCA for 13 years till 2013, of corruption but he has denied the allegations.