Heated exchanges were witnessed between Union Minister Arun Jaitley and senior advocate Ram Jethmalani in the Delhi High Court today during the former’s cross-examination in a defamation case against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The recording of Jaitley’s statement in a civil defamation suit of Rs 10 crore filed by him against Kejriwal and other AAP functionaries could not continue as the Minister objected to the use of a word against him by the veteran lawyer representing the Chief Minister.
The Finance Minister, who appeared before Joint Registrar Deepali Sharma, lost his cool and asked Jethmalani whether the word was used as per instructions from Kejriwal.
“If this is so, I would aggravate the charges against the defendant (Kejriwal),” Jaitley said, adding that there was a limit to personal malice.
Senior advocates Rajiv Nayar and Sandeep Sethi, who were representing Jaitley, also said that Jethmalani was putting scandalous questions and should restrain himself from asking irrelevant ones “as this matter is Arun Jaitley versus Arvind Kejriwal and not Ram Jethmalani versus Arun Jaitley”.
To this, Jethmalani said he used the word on the instruction of Kejriwal.
However, Anupam Srivastav, advocate on record for Kejriwal since the beginning of the suit, submitted that he had no instruction on the use of the word.
A group of lawyers including Jethmalani who were defending the AAP leaders also maintained that Jaitley was not entitled to a claim of Rs 10 crore on account of his alleged defamation.
Jaitley has filed the civil defamation suit seeking Rs 10 crore damages from Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders — Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai — for accusing him of financial irregularities in the DDCA of which he was the President from 2000 to 2013.
The verbal exchange between Jethmalani and Jaitley started when the former asked a question alleging that his article on irregularities in DDCA could not get published in a weekly magazine at the instance of the Finance Minister.
Jethmalani also alleged that the article pertained to the corruption in DDCA during the period when Jaitley was its President.
The question, however, was disallowed by Joint Registrar observing that she had already termed the article irrelevant on day of recording of the statement on the ground that it was not connected with the instant case. Jethmalani, however, insisted that it was.
He also alleged that Jaitley was “deceiving the people by concealing his guilt of crime.”
The counsel representing the Finance Minister vehemently opposed the choice of words by Jethmalani saying he must stop insulting the minister.
However, as Jethmalani continued his attack, the Joint Registrar objected to it and said the senior lawyer and other advocates were crossing the limit and should allow the court to proceed in the matter.
The court listed the matter for further cross-examination on July 28 and July 31 after Kejriwal’s counsel asked the court to defer it.