'Ball in our court', says petitioner on accepting Kejriwal's 'apology' in defamation suit

New Delhi, 26 Feb (IANS): Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday told the Supreme Court that he made a mistake by retweeting an alleged defamatory video posted by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee in relation to the BJP IT Cell in 2018.

After the court hearing, Vikas Pandey, who filed a defamation suit against Kejriwal in the matter, said, "As of now, the ball is in our court, as we have been asked to inform the court by March 11 as to whether we are inclined to accept the apology of Kejriwal.

"We do feel that an apology can be accepted subject to an undertaking that he is not going to later spin it as a strategic withdrawal as if he is 'Field Marshal Kutuzov' or 'Prince Bagration'. All the documents in relation to this case, including important orders, pleadings, high court order dated February 5 etc. can be found in the SLP filed by Kejriwal that we are attaching here."

The case pertains to a video made by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee in which allegations were levelled against Pandey insinuating that he was a member of the BJP's IT Cell and had been involved in financial 'misdemeanors'.

The case has been pending for the last few years. Separate civil proceedings are also going on wherein Kejriwal and Dhruv Rathee have been arrayed as parties and the matter is at the stage of evidence.

In the criminal case, the trial court had issued summons following which Kejriwal had approached the sessions judge seeking relief. But the same was denied to him by way of a reasoned order.

The matter then went to the Delhi High Court which was approached by Kejriwal by way of a quashing petition under Section 482.

Petitioner Pandey said that the Chief Minister misled the court by saying that "we had only arrayed him as a party, omitting to array the originator of the tweet, i.e., Dhruv Rathee". This was a misrepresentation because the air had already been cleared on this point before the sessions judge, Pandey said.

"The truth was that we withdrew the complaint against Kejriwal with liberty to approach the special xourt at Rouse Avenue, which was the sole court empowered to try this case given that Kejriwal was a Constitutional functionary and still remains one.

"Nonetheless, the Chief Minister enjoyed the benefit of a stay order for almost five years. Finally, the case came up for hearing in January when my counsels, Raghav Awasthi and Mukesh Sharma, appeared," Pandey added.

The high court also dismissed both of Kejriwal's pleas and in a landmark judgement running into 50 pages dismissed the quashing petition.

On Monday, the matter again came up for hearing during which Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, reiterated both of the contentions that were rejected by the high court apart from tendering an abject mea culpa, or apology.



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Title: 'Ball in our court', says petitioner on accepting Kejriwal's 'apology' in defamation suit

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