DDCA defamation case: Jaitley to face Jethmalani again in Delhi High Court

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New Delhi, March 7: The high octane drama between ace Counsel and former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will continue today in Delhi High Court today.

The hearing of District Cricket Association (DDCA) defamation case filed by FM Arun Jaitley against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders is on going in the Delhi High Court.

On Monday the face-off between the two law experts in the court of law saw a roller coaster of emotions and charges by both the sides. While Jaitley claimed “irreparable and unquantifiable” damage has been done to his reputation, Jaithmalani asked him to quantify the damage and charged the former that the quantification of damage was based on “his (Jaitley’s) personal feelings of greatness”.

As much as 52 questions were snapped to Jaitley for cross examination in the court room that was packed by lawmakers, politicians and journalists.

Arun Jaitley had filed the suit seeking Rs. 10 crore in damages after Arvind Kejriwal and five AAP leaders. The AAP leaders had accused Jaitley for irregularities and financial bungling in the DDCA, of which Jaitley was the president for about 13 years, till 2013.

Jaitley denied all the charges and filed a criminal defamation case against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders in the Patiala House Court, while a civil defamation case was filed in the Delhi High Court.

Of the questions that were asked of him, Jaitley reiterated his stand on the defamation suit and said Kejriwal and others made defamatory statements to deflect attention from the raids carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the office of his secretary

He claimed the charges were leveled to tarnish his image and this continued for 5-6 days. He added this affected his image irreparably. He said: I have never complained against political criticism, but this is for the first time when personal imputations questioning my integrity were made.

Cross-examining Jaitley’s statement, the ace counsel asked the politician why he took six days to file the defamation case.

Jethmalani questioned Jaitley over Rs 10 crore defamation and asked: You do not claim in this figure of Rs 10 crore that there is any loss of income or property (from Kejriwal’s defamatory statement). What do you have to say?

Jaitley answered that the “damage to his reputation has caused pain and mental distress”.

There on, he asked the finance minister to explain the ‘unquantifiable damage to his reputation.’

To this Jaitley replied: I believe that considering my stature, background and reputation, the loss caused to me and my reputation was so enormous that it could be considered unquantifiable.

Jethmalani then poised: It was your own personal feeling about your own greatness that it cannot be quantified in fiscal measure. What do you have to say?

When asked about his awareness on appointment of a commission of inquiry in respect of some matters connected with the DDCA, Jaitley said he had left the president-ship of the DDCA in 2013 and had no interest in the activities of this association thereafter.

Referring to a letter written by Jaitley to the Deputy Registrar seeking defamation proceedings against Kejriwal, asked him: You (Jaitley) have used the word ‘goodwill’ in the letter filed along with the complaint. Are you aware about the difference between ‘goodwill’ and ‘reputation’?

The Minister replied: There are overlapping areas in the meaning of the two words and the counsel’s (Jaitley’s) letter dated December 21, 2015 in that sense uses them ‘interchangeably’.”

Jaitley rejected Jethmalani’s suggestion that the words “goodwill” and “reputation” are “totally different”.

Jethmalani then confronted Jaitley with Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary and told him about the difference of the two words.

However, the court as well as Jaitley’s counsel raised objection on Jethmalani’s question and said that a witness cannot be confronted with a dictionary.

Targetting Jaitley on the two words, senior counsel Jethmalani again asked whether the Finance Minister agrees that “men in power do good things for their friends and enjoy a lot of goodwill”, and that “reputation does not suffer from a defamatory statement as much as goodwill suffers”. The senior counsel also said that “goodwill is enjoyed by a crook who does good things for someone”.

However, the Minister raised objection to the reference – which was allowed by the court observing that such questions did not have any relevance to the case.

In December 2015, Jaitley filed a civil defamation case against Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee, claiming that they made “false and defamatory” statements in a case involving DDCA, thereby harming his reputation.

The hearing will continue on Tuesday.

Wefornews Bureau

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