Published on: September 23, 2022 at 19:40 IST
The Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved judgement in a defamation case brought by Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) Vinai Kumar Saxena against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its leaders Sanjay Singh, Atishi, Saurabh Bhardwaj, Jasmine Shah, and Durgesh Pathak.
Justice Amit Bansal reserved the order after listening to prominent lawyers for the leaders of LG and AAP state their cases.
Senior lawyers Mahesh Jethmalani and Maninder Singh defended Saxena, contending that the claims levelled by the AAP and its leaders are patently false and defamatory.
They asserted that the defendants had not offered any supporting documentation for their assertions and that the document used at the time was fraudulent because it did not actually exist.
“Their tweets and press conferences have been widely reported. Functionaries of the party say all this day in and day out. They say Vinai Kumar Saxena ne Rs. 1400 crore ka ghotala kiya. They may not take any names but we know they are referring to VK Saxena,” Singh stated.
The lawyer argued that these allegations are being made against a senior constitutional official who is unable to defend himself in front of the public.
The lawsuit sought that an injunction order be issued against these leaders and that they be told to delete any tweets, posts, or videos that made mention to the LG’s alleged wrongdoings.
Speaking on behalf of AAP leaders, senior attorneys Sandeep Sethi and Rajiv Nayar argued that the court shouldn’t impose an interim injunction order at this time since it will be determined at trial whether the allegations are genuine or not.
“We plead truth and justification. There cannot be any question for injunction. The allegation is during this person’s (Saxena) tenure at KVIC, two people were arrested. They can say that this is hearsay, but the fact is two people have gone on record to say that this happened,” Sethi argued.
He continued by saying that according to the rules established by the courts, public officials must be thick-skinned and open to criticism.
“As a political party it is my duty to bring all these issues to public notice. The LG is not above law. I am not seeking investigation against him for something he did while being LG but for his conduct during his tenure at KVIC,” said another counsel appearing for Bhardwaj.
Saxena sued the AAP leaders for defamation after they allegedly made “derogatory” and “malicious” accusations against him.
On August 29, AAP MPs accused Saxena of forcing his staff to exchange demonetised cash in the Delhi parliament.
Furthermore, they said Saxena was in charge of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) at the time of financial irregularities of Rs. 1400.
Saxena allegedly used his position of authority to award his daughter the contract for the interior design of Mumbai’s Khadi lounge, according to AAP.
The party demanded Saxena’s detention and a probe into the incident by the CBI and ED.
The LG served AAP officials with a legal letter earlier this month demanding that they issue a press release directing all of the party’s allies and members to stop distributing untrue and defamatory claims.
He had made the request that they abide by the notification within 48 hours.
The AAP’s top officials had declined, though.