The Delhi High Court has refused to stay trial court proceedings in connection with a criminal defamation complaint filed against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
The court’s decision came on a petition filed by the two AAP leaders, who sought quashing of the criminal defamation complaint filed by advocate Surender Kumar Sharma.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders also sought a stay on the proceedings before the trial court, which is yet to frame issue in the matter.
However, Justice I S Mehta granted exemption to them from personal appearance on April 6 before the trial court in the matter.
“Let the proceedings before the trial court go on…I am giving relief that they (Kejriwal and Sisodia) are exempted from appearing in person before the trial court on April 6,” the court said.
The leaders contended that the order of the trial court summoning them was “erroneous”. They also claimed that a false complaint was filed against them.
The high court issued notice to complainant Sharma in the matter and asked him to file his response by July 28. It also asked the Delhi police to file status report in the matter.
Besides Kejriwal and Sisodia, the complainant has also named Yogendra Yadav in his complaint.
Yadav was a member of the National Executive of the AAP until 2015, when he was expelled for alleged anti-party activities.
Sharma had alleged that in 2013 he was approached by volunteers of AAP who had asked him to contest the Delhi Assembly elections on a party ticket, saying Kejriwal was pleased with his social services.
He filled up the application form to contest the polls after being told by Sisodia and Yadav that AAP’s Political Affairs Committee had decided to give him the ticket.
However, it was later denied to him.
On October 14, 2013 the complainant claimed, articles in leading newspapers carried “defamatory, unlawful and derogatory words used by the accused persons” which have lowered his reputation in the Bar and the society.
Opposing the complaint, the AAP leaders submitted that cancellation or allotment of an election ticket is the prerogative of the party.
“Party has asked him if any cases were pending against him to which Sharma had said nil. Later it was found that several cases were pending against him and he had concealed this information…Kejriwal did not issue any press release against Sharma. The party had issued the press release. So no defamation case is made out against Kejriwal,” the counsel for the two AAP leaders argued.
On the basis of the complaint, the trial court had sought their presence before it in the matter.
It, however, had granted bail to Kejriwal, Sisodia and Yadav, after they had appeared before it in pursuance to summonses against them.
The summons were issued on the complaint under sections 499, 500 (defamation) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC, with the trial court saying there was prima facie material to summon the accused.
(With inputs from PTI)