Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been under trial after Union Minister Arun Jaitley had filed a defamation suit in 2015 against him. Jaitley claimed that Kejriwal along with a few other AAP leaders — Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee — had made "false and defamatory" statements against him involving the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).
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Jethmalani, it may be noted, has reportedly billed Kejriwal Rs 3.42 crore for retainership and 11 court appearances so far. In a recent expose, a news channel has shown that the bill is being paid by the taxpayer, with the Kejriwal administration ordering the state exchequer to foot it.
That should not be the case. A legal analyst has pointed out that Jaitley and Kejriwal were both fighting the case in their personal capacities. If Kejriwal had wanted to turn it into a matter involving the Delhi chief minister, he should have invoked Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code.
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With Kejriwal already bearing the brunt from Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal, who on March 29 had directed Delhi Chief Secretary M M Kutty to recover Rs 97 crore from the ruling AAP for splurging on government advertisements, the latest issue can have an adverse effect on AAP's chances to win the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections.
Meanwhile, Jethmalani has said he is ready to represent Kejriwal pro bono. He told reporters, "I charge only the rich, but for the poor, I work for free. All this is instigated by Mr Jailtley who's afraid of my cross-examination."
AAP leaders, however, claim that Jethmalani had offered to represent Kejriwal free of cost in the first place, but nine months after taking up the case, he started sending bills to the Delhi chief minister.