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Kejriwal denies Jaitley's public character is even defamable

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday told Delhi high court that the defamation suit filed by union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley against him and five other AAP leaders was a classic instance of “political vendetta” against them for speaking up against the “malaise of corruption” in the DDCA

Jaitley filed a civil defamation case and sought Rs 10 crore in damages following the Aam Aadmi Party leaders’ statements on alleged financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which Jaitley was president for 13 years till 2013.

The court had earlier issued notice to Kejriwal, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chadha, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai and sought their response by 5 February.

Filing the response, Kejriwal said: “The present suit is a classic instance of political vendetta which the plaintiff (Jaitely) is seeking to wreck on the defendants (Kejriwal and the other party members) for having sought to speak up against the malaise of corruption and maladministration.”

He said the allegations made by him against Jaitley were based on “true facts and documents in public domain”.

“The plaintiff (Jaitley) has himself, in the past, spoken out vehemently against other public figures on issues pertaining to corruption and cannot escape the same scrutiny.

“It is reiterated that the instant plaint has been instituted with the malafide intention of intimidating and coercing this defendant into succumbing to the threat of false, frivolous and malicious prosecution and to thereby prevent him from exercising his constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and expression,” said the chief minister.

Kejriwal claimed that no injury has been caused to Jaitley’s reputation.

The finance minister’s claim that he enjoys and in fact possesses high public character was a totally “frivolous and unsustainable claim”, he added.

“No injury of any kind has been caused to the plaintiff’s reputation which he claims.

“This is not a suit for injury to his private character, but to his public character, if at all. This defendant denies that he has any reputation of this kind to protect.

“In a democracy, this reputation can only be what can be proved to be the known reaction, response and manifestation of the people’s attitude to the plaintiff.”

Kejriwal further said: “The last time he (Jaitely) contested the election to the Lok Sabha was from Amritsar as a BJP candidate in 2014.

“Despite the success of the BJP, this plaintiff lost by a margin of more than 1,00,000 (one lakh) votes. Indian democracy has never accepted his claim of public character.”

Jaitley headed the DDCA for 13 years till 2013.

The attempt on part of Jaitley is to browbeat the AAP leaders into silence and “dissuade them from drawing attention to the mismanagement and rampant financial irregularities plaguing the DDCA and from inviting scrutiny into the manner of functioning of the association,” the reply further added.

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