The new Haryana government has two of its top and most powerful ministers locked in a legal battle from which neither is willing to back down. Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala stands firm on taking the defamation case against state’s new Home Minister Anil Vij to its “logical conclusion”, while the latter too appears in no mood to take a step back. Both Dushyant and Vij are facing off in a sessions court in Hisar.
Last year, Dushyant had alleged a scam in the state’s Health Department, reacting to which Vij had allegedly made an objectionable personal remark against Dushyant.
Subsequently, Dushyant, who was an MP from Hisar at that time, had filed a criminal defamation case against Vij, the then Health Minister of Haryana. According to Dushyant’s complaint, Vij, in his statement to the media in April, had stated, “Drug abuse is rampant in the area from where Dushyant Chautala comes. I think he has also started taking drugs and he should go to some de-addiction centre.”
Since August 14 last year, there have been 12 hearings in Hisar’s sessions court in the case. While Dushyant has already closed his “preliminary evidence” and the statements of two witnesses from complainant’s side have also been recorded by the court, the case has now reached the stage of ‘arguments on summoning the accused’ to the court. In most of the subsequent hearings, Dushyant had sought exemptions from personal appearance.
Talking to The Indian Express, Dushyant said, “I am not going to step back. I will take this case to its logical conclusion unless Mr Vij withdraws his remark passed against me and apologises for his statement.”
On the other hand, Vij too appeared firm on his stand and told The Indian Express that he will “see what to do, when the time comes”.
“Till this time, I do not know what he (Dushyant) has done. I have not received anything in writing yet. I will see what to do when I receive anything and when the time comes,” Vij told The Indian Express.
The case had its last hearing on November 15 and Dushyant sought exemption from personal appearance that was granted for that day only.
“Today, the case was fixed for arguments on the point of summoning of accused. At this stage, an application for exemption from personal appearance on behalf of the complainant has been filed through his counsel. Heard. In view of the grounds mentioned in the application, exemption is granted,” Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Varsha Jain had ordered on November 15.
The order further said, “Arguments not advanced. A date is requested by learned counsel for the complainant. Now, the case is adjourned to 07.02.2020 (February 7, 2020) for arguments on the point of summoning of accused.”
Earlier, on September 19, when the case was taken up, Jain had ordered, “Today the case was fixed for hearing arguments. An application for exemption from personal appearance on behalf of the complainant Dushyant has been filed through his counsel. Heard. In view of the grounds mentioned in the application, exemption is granted to above named complainant from personal appearance for today only. Arguments not advanced. A date is requested by learned counsel for the complainant. Now, the case is adjourned to 18.10.2019 for arguments on the point of summoning of accused”.
However, on October 18, because the JMIC was on leave, the case hearing was fixed for November 15.
While Dushyant being the Deputy Chief Minister is considered number two after the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in ministerial hierarchy of the state Cabinet, Anil Vij has also got powerful portfolios with Home Ministry being the most significant.
Vij, being a six-time MLA from Ambala Cantonment in Haryana, is currently the senior most elected BJP leader of the state. He is also among the two senior most members of the 90-member Vidhan Sabha of Haryana along with Congress’ Raghuvir Singh Kadian from Beri Assembly constituency, who too has been a member of the House six times.
Vij is also the incharge of the “Common Minimum Programme” document, which is required to be drafted by picking the promises made by both BJP and JJP in their respective manifestos. The state government, then, will move forward for the next five years on the basis of the CMP document.