Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) leaders on Tuesday opposed in Delhi High Court the electronic evidence filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a civil defamation suit against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five others.
The AAP leaders objected to the admissibility of printouts of evidence which Jaitley has filed before Joint Registrar Kovai Venugopal, saying the minister has neither furnished certificate of section 65B (Admissibility of electronic records) of the Indian Evidence Act nor has filed an affidavit supporting his evidence and so the documents cannot be admitted as evidence during the proceedings.
Senior advocate Pratibha M Singh, appearing for Jaitley, opposed the contentions of Kejriwal, Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh and Deepak Bajpai, saying the minister has furnished an affidavit so the court may go ahead with the proceedings.
She further argued that its delaying tactics on the part of defendants (AAP leaders).
The senior counsel said the matter was fixed for admission/denial of the documents filed by both the parties in order to support their allegations and defence.
She said "both the parties are putting their documents for admission/denial and in case anyone has an objection, it can raise before the court during the admission/ denial of documents".
During the hearing, the counsel representing AAP leaders contended that Jaitley’s affidavit was incomplete and the court cannot proceed without deciding this issue.
To this, the Joint Registrar fixed the issue for March 29 when it will hear arguments of both the parties.
Jaitley has filed the defamation suit seeking Rs.10 crore in damages from Kejriwal and the other five leaders for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) when he was its President.
The minister has already denied all the allegations.
Kejriwal and the others have claimed that the suit was "a classic instance of political vendetta" with a view to "harassing" them and curbing their right to free speech.
Jaitley had filed the suit in the backdrop of attacks on him by Kejriwal and other AAP leaders over alleged irregularities and financial bungling in DDCA of which he was the president for about 13 years till 2013.
The minister also filed a criminal defamation complaint in a Delhi court on the same issue, on which Kejriwal and five other leaders were summoned as accused and asked to appear before it on April 7.
DDCA has also filed a criminal defamation suit against Kejriwal and Kirti Azad.
Jaitley had said the defendants’ "malicious campaign" against him and his family members commenced from December 15, 2015, "as a counter-blast" to the CBI raid of bureaucrat in the Delhi Secretariat. He has denied that the raid was a malafide and motivated exercise as claimed by the defendants.
Kejriwal had on January 12 filed a written statement in the high court claiming that by filing the defamation suit, Jaitley has attempted to "browbeat the defendants (Kejriwal and others) into silence and dissuade them from drawing attention to the mismanagement and rampant financial irregularities plaguing the DDCA and from inviting scrutiny into the manner of functioning of the said association."