Arvind Kejriwal was on Friday summoned as an accused in a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, with a court here observing that statements allegedly made by the former Delhi Chief Minister have the effect of "harming the reputation" of the complainant.
Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha summoned Kejriwal as an accused for April 7, saying, "Let the accused (Kejriwal) be summoned under section 499/500 (defamation) IPC on filing of PF (processing fee) through speed post and approved courier for April 7."
"In view of the testimony of the witnesses, including the deposition of the complainant (Gadkari) and other evidence produced on record as discussed herein above, the impugned statements allegedly made by Kejriwal have the effect of harming the reputation of the complainant and lowering his estimation in the eyes of others," the court said.
The summon was issued against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader on a complaint in which Gadkari had alleged that he was defamed by Kejriwal, who had included his name in the party's list of "India's most corrupt".
The court, in its 4-page order, said there was "prima facie" sufficient material to proceed against the accused.
"In these circumstances, this court is prima facie satisfied that there is sufficient material on record to proceed against the accused for the offence under section 499/500 IPC.
"Needless to say, the accused shall have the liberty to put his defence in the form of exceptions under section 499 IPC at the time of trial," the magistrate said.
The court also referred to a judgement passed recently by Delhi High Court, saying, "Also in view of the judgement of the High Court of Delhi....this court shall at the time of framing of notice, once again consider the material before it and shall hear the accused on whether an offence has been committed which can be legally tried."
Senior advocate Pinki Anand and advocate Ajay Digpaul, who had appeared for Gadkari, had earlier told the court that Kejriwal had made the statement against the BJP leader with a "malafide intention" to tarnish the image and to lower the dignity of their client.
The counsel had contended that Kejriwal made "baseless and false allegation" against 57-year-old Gadkari.
The court on February 18 had recorded the statements of Gadkari and advocate Neeraj as complainant witnesses in the complaint.
Gadkari in his statement had claimed the former Delhi Chief Minister had included his name in the list of alleged corrupt politician to tarnish his public image.
Former BJP President Gadkari had said that on January 31 this year, Kejriwal had issued a list of alleged "India's most corrupt" in which he had named various politicians, including him.
On January 31, Kejriwal had accused several politicians of being "corrupt" and had said AAP will field candidates against them in coming Lok Sabha polls.
The court, in its order summoning Kejriwal as an accused, also said, "These statements (made allegedly by Kejriwal) were widely telecast/published. Also, it has been alleged that these statements are false and were made maliciously in order to get political mileage and media attention without there being any basis for making these statements."
The court also observed that at the stage of summoning the accused in such case, it has to see if there is evidence in support of the allegations made in the complaint and not whether "the evidence is sufficient to warrant a conviction".