Public funds can't be misutilised for private purpose: Pinki Anand on defamation case

New Delhi [India], Apr. 4 (ANI): Questioning as to why the bill raised by veteran lawyer Ram Jethmalani in the defamation case filed against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sent in the government machinery to make the payment, Assistant Solicitor General Pinki Anand on Tuesday said nobody can insist that public money be misutilised for illegal, private and personal activity on behalf of an individual.

"The real issue is can the taxpayer be made liable to pay money for a private and personal dispute because defamation/slander, making wrong statements, maligning anybody is totally a personal offence or a personal civil case," Anand told ANI in an exclusive conversation.

"Secondly, when you do an illegal activity in a personal capacity, how can the government exchequer or public money be utilized to pay for a private issue," he added.

Responding to a poser on Jethmalani's assertion that he would work for free if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo cannot pay him his fees, Anand said the question is not why the former raised the bill, adding it is up to the government to pay or not pay it.

"If a lawyer raises a bill, it is up to the lawyer to charge that amount or not charge that amount.If the government doesn't pay the bill that is another matter, but the question today possibly is this that why was it sent in the government machinery to make the payment," she said.

Jethmalani, who is defending Kejriwal in both a criminal and a civil defamation case filed by Jaitley, has reportedly sent bills for Rs. one crore in retainership and Rs. 22 lakh for each appearance in court to the Delhi Chief Minister.

Jethmalani has made 11 appearances so far, leading to a total of Rs 3.42 crore.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has signed off on the bills and sent them for clearance to the Lieutenant Governor, who has sought the opinion of experts on how to proceed.

Baijal's move comes after the Delhi Government's Law Department, responding to a note by Sisodia, said that Lieutenant Governor's permission for clearing the bills was necessary. (ANI)