The Delhi High Court has imposed on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, a fine of Rs 10,000 for not filing a response on the fresh Rs 10 crore defamation suit against him by Union minister Arun Jaitley.
The joint registrar Pankaj Gupta directed Kejriwal to deposit the cost while granting him two more weeks to file his response.
The high court had on May 23 sought the response of Kejriwal on why defamation proceedings should not be initiated against him.
During the cross-examination of Jaitley on May 17, Arvind Kejriwal's former counsel Ram Jethmalani had allegedly used a term Jaitley had found objectionable.
A day after, another high court judge, who was hearing a connected matter, had termed as scandalous the remarks made by Jethmalani against Jaitley.
Terming the word as not only false, baseless, malicious and abusive, but per se defamatory, Jaitley had told the court he was subjected to numerous questions, terminologies/statements that are ex-facie abusive, malicious, offensive, irrelevant and slanderous.
At the same time, while hearing Jaitley's another application to expedite the proceedings of the defamation suit, the court directed Kejriwal not to put "scandalous" questions to Jaitley. Holding that the remarks by Jethmalani, who has now quit as Kejriwal's counsel, were indecent, the court sought undertakings from Kejriwal's new counsel, who would cross-examine Jaitley.
"I have never seen such scandalous words being used in any suit and it is uncalled for. This is not the way to conduct the cross-examination, they have to control themselves. You have used some words. Do these fall under free speech? Are you aware that these are unparliamentary words?" the judge said.
Justice Manmohan said the chief minister should conduct cross-examination of the senior BJP leader in a dignified manner and in accordance with law. The court added that liberty of free expression could not be confused with the license to make unfounded, unwarranted and irresponsible aspersions.
Observing that such words were prohibited under the Evidence Act, the court said if there was even an iota of scandalous questions in future cross-examination, it would transfer the case from the joint registrar to a bench of the high court.