Delhi HC refuses to strike out Jaitley’s submissions in ‘crook’ defamation case against Kejriwal

Delhi HC refuses to strike out Jaitley’s submissions in ‘crook’ defamation case against Kejriwal

Ashutosh Gambhir

The Delhi High Court yesterday dismissed an application moved by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, wherein he had prayed for the striking off of certain submissions made by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the second defamation case.

Jaitley had filed another suit for defamation against Kejriwal after the Kejriwal’s former counsel Ram Jethmalani referred to the Finance Minister as a ‘crook’ during the cross examination in the first suit for defamation.

Jaitley, in his submissions, had referred to a letter written by Kejriwal wherein he had stated that he had not instructed Jethmalani to use derogatory language during the cross examination. It was submitted by Jaitley that,

“It was only after the notice was issued by this Hon‟ble Court on 23.07.2017 and summons were served on the Defendant on 06.06.2017, that the Defendant, in order to concoct a moonshine defence in the instant proceedings, speciously wrote to his senior Advocate on 20.07.2017 allegedly denying his specific instructions.”

Jethmalani had also rejected the denial by Kejriwal and stated that the latter had used even more objectionable language against Jaitley during their private meetings.

Kejriwal’s new counsel Senior Advocate Anoop George Chaudhari had submitted that Jaitley had exploited the opportunity of filing the replication for the purpose of introducing new allegations of defamation in addition to the case set out in the plaint.

He further contended that by bringing in the additional/new facts in the replication, Jaitley intended to ‘rob’ the defendant of a chance to file a reply to
the allegations made.

Appearing for Jaitley, Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar submitted that the pleas in the replication were neither inconsistent nor at variance with the original pleadings, and that the impugned averments did not constitute a fresh cause of action.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Manmohan observed,

“The pleadings can be ordered to be struck off under Order 6 Rule 16, CPC only if they are shown to be unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious or abuse of the process of law or if they amount to re-litigation or tend to embarrass the defendants in the trial of the suit.”

While dismissing the application moved by Kejriwal, the Court held that Jaitley in his replication neither made out a new case nor a fresh cause of action or enlarged the scope of the suit. In fact, the replication contained averments in support of the original cause of action.

“The averments in the replication crystallize the plaintiff’s stand on an important issue and are relevant to the case at hand. Consequently, the replication can neither be termed as scandalous nor frivolous or vexatious or unnecessary or abuse of process of law.”

The Court, however, did give Kejriwal the opportunity to file an additional written statement in response to the replication filed by Jaitley.

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