New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders, who were summoned as accused in a criminal defamaiton case filed against them by Union Minister Arun Jaitley, were today granted bail by a Delhi court.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass granted the relief to Kejriwal and AAP leaders Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai, on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 each with one surety of like amount.
Kejriwal and other accused had appeared in court in pursuance to the summons issued against them on March 9. The court has now fixed the matter for May 19 for further arguments in the case.
During the hearing which commenced at around 2.35 pm, all the accused moved their bail pleas before the court which granted the relief to them. Jaitley was also present in the court room.
During the brief hearing, the counsel appearing for the accused told the court that they have not been supplied all the documents of the case after which senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, who appeared for Jaitley, said that they would provide entire sets of documents to the defence counsel.
Initially, the court granted bail to the accused on a personal bond of Rs 25,000 each with one surety of the like amount but one of the defence counsel told the court that they have brought fixed depsit receipts (FDRs) of Rs 20,000.
Hearing this submission, the court reduced the amount from Rs 25,000 to Rs 20,000 and fixed the matter for arguments on framing of notice for May 19.
Gopal Mohan, advisor to the CM, stood surety for Kejriwal and Delhi Minister Imran Hussain stood surety for Ashutosh, while AAP MLAs Naresh Balyan, Nitin Tyagi, Naresh Yadav and AAP leader Sanjeev stood sureties for Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Dipak Bajpai and Raghav Chadha, respectively.
Before the commencement of the hearing, supporters of BJP and AAP gathered outside gate number 2 of the Patiala House Court complex and shouted slogans against each other.
The accused AAP leaders and Jaitley came to the court amid heavy security presence and entry to the court room was restricted by the police. Only the accused, those giving sureties, Jaitley and lawyers appearing in the matter along with six journalists were allowed to enter the court room.
The court had on March 9 directed Kejriwal and the five other AAP leaders to appear before it today while noting that allegations were “derogatory” and amounted to “slander and libel”.
The court had observed that the allegations levelled by them against Jaitley were “not only insulting but jeeringly taunting and provocative” and had summoned all the six accused for alleged offences under section 500 (defamation) of the IPC read with section 34 (common intention) the IPC.
Jaitley had filed a criminal defamation complaint alleging that Kejriwal and these five AAP leaders had allegedly defamed him in Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.
The court, while summoning the accused, had referred to the statements and Facebook and Twitter posts of the accused, and said, “The statements have exposed the complainant (Jaitley) to ridicule, hatred and contempt amongst the right- thinking members of the society and lowered his reputation.”
The court had noted that Jaitley, through the testimony of witnesses, has proved on record that while he was President of DDCA, “the accounts were duly audited/approved by AGM” and were submitted with the taxation authorities.
In his complaint, Jaitley had alleged that Kejriwal and others had made defamatory statements that he and his family had made pecuniary gains by associating with M/s 21st Century Media Pvt Ltd, a sports management firm.
On January 5, Jaitley had appeared in the court and said that Kejriwal and five AAP leaders had made “false and defamatory” statements. He had rejected the charge that he had siphoned off money from DDCA for his own benefit.
During recording of his statement, Jaitley had said that their statements against him and his family members lowered his dignity in the eyes of the public at large.
Jaitley, who was the DDCA President from December 1999 to December 2013, had said Kejriwal’s statement that he received money when the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium was constructed during his tenure as the DDCA Chief, was false as Board of Directors had constituted a committee to supervise the work and he was not a member of this supervisory committee.
Jaitley had on December 21, 2015 filed the criminal defamation case against them and sought their prosecution for offences that entail a punishment of upto two years in jail.