Delhi HC frowns upon use of ‘scandalous word’ against Jaitley

Jethmalani Jaitley

New Delhi, May 18 : The Delhi High Court on Thursday said the use of a “scandalous” word — crook — by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s lawyer Ram Jethmalani against Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during the latter’s cross-examination in a defamation case cannot be allowed.

“If such allegations have been made on instructions of defendant 1 (Kejriwal), then no point in continuing with cross-examination of plaintiff (Jaitley) any more. Let defendant 1 make good his allegations. Let him step into the box,” said Justice Manmohan.

The court observation came after Jaitley’s lawyer apprised it that Jethmalani had used the word “crook” against the Finance Minister during his cross-examination on Wednesday before a Joint Registrar.

On Wednesday, Jaitley and Jethmalani clashed in the court, with the Minister taking a strong objection to the use of word “crookery” by the senior lawyer.

A furious Jaitley, who was being cross-examined in the defamation case he had filed against Kejriwal, had asked Jethmalani whether the word used by him was in his personal capacity or as per the instruction of Kejriwal.

“I will aggravate the charges against the defendants (Kejriwal)… there is a limit to personal malice,” Jaitley said on Wednesday after Jethmalani said it has been used by him on instruction from Kejriwal.

Jaitley’s lawyers raised the issue before Justice Manmohan, arguing that they want a clarification from Kejriwal as to whether the word used by Jethmalani was on the Chief Minister’s instruction or in lawyer’s personal capacity.

If Kejriwal had instructed the lawyer to use such adverse word, then they would seek additional aggravated damages of Rs 10 crore from him, Jaitley’s lawyer Rajiv Nayar said, adding that if Jethmalani had on his own used that word, then it would be a violation of the Bar Council of India rules.

Justice Manmohan said cross-examination cannot be allowed in such a manner and asked Jaitley’s lawyers to file an application related to Jethmalani’s adverse remark.

“What is to be done when such scandalous remarks are made? It’s unpleasant… cross-examination should be carried out in accordance with law,” the court said.

The issue was raised before the court during hearing of an application moved by Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha for making amendments in his written submission filed in reply to Jaitley’s plea.

In December 2015, Jaitley filed a civil defamation case against Kejriwal and AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai, claiming they made “false and defamatory” statements vis-a-vis alleged corruption in the Delhi District Cricket Association, thereby harming the Minister’s reputation.

Jaitley has sought Rs 10 crore in damages.

He had claimed that the AAP leaders attacked him over alleged irregularities and financial bungling in the cricket body, of which he was the President for about 13 years.


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