New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) In a setback to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to stay the trial court's proceedings in a defamation case against him and five other AAP leaders.
The criminal defamation case had been filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the wake of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.
With Justice P.S. Teji dismissing the plea of Kejriwal declaring it "devoid of any merit", now the trial court is set to resume hearing in the defamation case against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders.
The high court, in its 30-page judgment, said: "There is no illegality or un-sustainability in the law in continuation of the criminal proceedings before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, and he is empowered to continue the same. Resultantly, the petitioner's (Kejriwal) request to adjourn the trial court proceedings is rejected."
The court clarified that both matters between Kejriwal and Jaitley -- civil suit pending before the high court and the criminal defamation case before the trial -- are "separate and independent proceedings and they can go side by side".
"There is no legal impediment to invoke the civil proceedings for defamation as well as initiating the criminal proceedings for defamation simultaneously and continuation of the same," the order stated.
Kejriwal had challenged the trial court's May 19 order to turn down his plea to stay the hearing in the criminal defamation case till the high court decided a related civil suit.
Kejriwal had said that there are two cases -- one civil and the other criminal -- filed against AAP leaders on similar allegations, so the trial court should have stayed the proceedings in the matter, but it had declined.
The CM seeking stay on the criminal defamation proceedings had told the high court that Jaitley had filed two cases simultaneously, which amounted to 'double jeopardy' as the AAP leaders would be tried twice for the same offence.
Jaitley had filed the criminal defamation complaint in the trial court, alleging Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders -- Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai -- had defamed him in the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.
Besides the criminal defamation case, Jaitley also filed a civil defamation suit before the Delhi High Court seeking Rs 10 crore in damages from Kejriwal and the five AAP leaders for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family over alleged wrongdoing in the DDCA when he was its President from December 1999 to December 2013.