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Mayhem ensued in Room No. 2 of the Delhi High Court as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s cross examination in the defamation case against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resumed today.
Heated arguments and verbal assaults were exchanged between Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani and the counsel of Jaitley from the very first question put forth in the cross examination.
Jethmalani, appearing for Kejriwal, repeatedly questioned Jaitley regarding an article published in a leading newspaper. The article, criticising the Finance Minister, was written by Jethmalani himself. This was vehemently objected to by the lawyers appearing for Jaitley as being completely irrelevant to the case and part of an agenda to malign the plaintiff.
Jethmalani’s contention was that in a suit for defamation, the personal character of the plaintiff is extremely important. He said,
“I am conducting a case, wherein I intend to prove that Arun Jaitley has no reputation whatsoever.”
Jethmalani also alleged that by use of his resources, Jaitley had stopped the publication of the article in another newspaper.
Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayyar, appearing for Jaitley, objected to each question put forth by Jethmalani and termed the line of questioning as “scandalous”.
Irked by constant objections by the counsels of Jaitley, Jethmalani dropped the bomb and said:
“I intend to show that this man (Arun Jaitley) is a crook”.
After this statement was made, even the otherwise calm and composed Arun Jaitley, could not control his anguish. He retorted,
“There is a limit to personal malice.”
He addressed the court and asked whether Ram Jethmalani was making these statements under the instructions of his client and if that was the case, then he would aggravate the charges against the defendants. He also confronted Jethmalani and said,
“You have led a life of personal malice.”
Senior Standing Counsel for Govt. of NCT of Delhi Rahul Mehra also entered the courtroom to defend Jethmalani’s line of questioning and got into an argument with Jaitley’s counsel.
The Joint Registrar Ms. Deepali Sharma, had to constantly request lawyers from both sides to show restraint and not address each other.
Replying to the query raised by Jaitley, Jethmalani stated that he was making these statements with the consent of his clients. Further, he stated that Jaitley had deceived the people of this country and concealed his crimes and crookery.
This statement also received the same backlash with the lawyers of the Finance Minister pleading that all such statements must be put on record so that they could aggravate the charges against the defendants.
Amidst the chaos, the Court could only allow two questions to be answered in today’s cross examination.
Finally, at the behest of Anupam Srivastava, counsel for defendant no. 1, further cross examination was deferred as Jethmalani stated that he intends to appeal against the disallowance of his questions.
Read the transcript of today’s examination: