Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was on Tuesday granted bail in a criminal defamation complaint filed by DDCA and cricketer-turned-politician Chetan Chauhan after he appeared before a court which insisted on his presence.
Kejriwal, who initially filed a plea through his counsel for exemption from personal appearance for the day, appeared before Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra, who said the accused has to first establish his identity before the court and there should be a valid ground for seeking exemption.
The court said the offence of defamation was bailable and granted bail to Kejriwal on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and a surety of the like amount.
The Chief Minister’s counsel moved an application seeking dropping of proceedings against him and sought exemption from personal appearance till the time court decides the plea.
The submission, however, did not go down well with the court which asked the counsel to show where does the law says that the accused is exempted till the time his application is pending.
Read | DDCA defamation suit: Arun Jaitley cross-examined by Jethmalani
“Where under the law it is written that till an application is pending you (accused) are exempted from appearance? Show me the law, I have to decide it today only,” the magistrate said, adding there was no immunity to chief ministers from appearance.
When advocates VK Ohri and Rishikesh, appearing for Kejriwal, asked where was the need for the Chief Minister to appear in person in the case, the magistrate said, “Your identity has to be established before me. Don’t make premature submissions. How your identity will be established before the court? You have to appear before me. It is me who has to see whom I have to try or not.”The court said that Constitution has given immunity to the President and Governors and not to Chief Ministers.
When the court asked Kejriwal’s counsel to show it the law on the issue, it was decided that the chief minister will appear.
Kejriwal’s appearance drew a huge crowd in the courtroom including lawyers, court staff, litigants and media persons. Minutes before he appeared, the policemen did a security check and the corridors were sanitised.
When the counsel maintained calling the Chief Minister to court has caused inconvenience to general public, the magistrate said he was also doing his constitutional duty by seeking the presence of the accused before the court.
During the hearing, advocate Sangram Patnaik, who appeared for DDCA and Chauhan, said he no longer wants to continue with the case due to personal reasons. The court, however, said as the complainant was not present today, no decision in this regard can be taken, and kept it for April 1.