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The Defamation Drama: Delhi HC denies Kejriwal’s plea seeking Jaitley’s bank account details

Nalini Sharma

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw of the Delhi High Court today dismissed the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea to disclose the bank accounts and financial records of the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Amongst other things, Kejriwal had sought the bank account details of the Union Minister and other financial records of companies in which he or his family members had over 10 per cent shareholding from the period 1999 to 2015.

In 2015, Jaitley had filed a defamation suit against the Chief Minister and other AAP leaders for making statements alleging financial mismanagement by Jaitley and his family members during his tenure as the DDCA President.

The AAP leaders had claimed administrative irregularities and mishandling of finances of the cricket body during the thirteen years that Jaitley had served as the President from 2000 to 2013.

Jaitley had denied all the allegations against him while filing the suit seeking Rs. 10 crores as damages.

Senior counsel HS Phoolka and Sanjay Hegde, who appeared for Kejriwal today, argued that they sought Jaitley’s bank account details, tax returns, etc. to disprove the claims made by him that he didn’t indulge in financial bungling while heading the cricket body.

An argument that was dismissed by Justice Endlaw as a “fishing expedition”.

The bench also told the senior counsel representing the Chief Minister that the onus to prove the statements made by Kejriwal were on him without violating another’s privacy.

The bench also heard plea by Arvind Kejriwal and AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha to amend the issues framed by the court in the matter in July last year.

The Delhi High Court had originally framed three issues – whether Jaitley was entitled to damages, what the amount should be and whether the statements which are in public domain are actionable or not.

Kejriwal sought the addition of a new issue – whether Jaitley had to prove the defamatory statements made against him were made out of malice. Although the bench rejected Kejriwal’s plea, Chadha’s plea for framing of an additional issue, that statements made by him in a public forum against a public figure are privileged from any defamatory action, was allowed by the court.

Arun Jaitley was represented by Senior Counsel Prathiba M Singh and Rajeev Nayar.

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