Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was Monday asked by a city court to appear before it in person on April 5 in a defamation case filed by her against former Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party chief Vijender Gupta.
Metropolitan Magistrate Saumya Chauhan directed the chief minister to appear before it on the next date after allowing her plea for exemption from personal appearance for a day.
"The complainant (Dikshit) has to be appear in person positively on the next date of hearing in the case... If she fails to come then the case can be dismissed," the judge said while fixing April 5, as the next date of hearing in the case.
Allowing her plea for exemption from personal appearance, the court said, "I cannot compel her to come at this stage, as the matter is at framing of notice.
"Let the matter come for complainant evidence, then also if she is not coming then the court will decide it (whether she has to appear in court or not) at that stage. It is upto the discretion of the court."
The court's direction came after Gupta's counsel, Ajay Verman and Ajay Digpaul told the judge that the arguments in the case can proceed further only if the chief minister, "who is deliberately avoiding the court's orders", shall remain present before the court or else her case should not be entertained.
To this, Dikshit's counsel, Mehmood Pracha informed that she is more than willing to come on every date, but due to her prior engagements at Rashtrapati Bhavan today she is seeking exemption from personal appearance for the day
"She has moved an exemption application for today and she has to attend Indira Gandhi Peace Award function to be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan," Pracha said.
The court on November 9, 2012 had asked Dikshit to appear before it on February 18, 2013.
Dikshit had filed the criminal defamation case against Gupta alleging that the BJP leader used "uncivilised" language against her before the April 15, 2012 MCD polls.
During the proceedings, Gupta's counsel requested the court that the next date in the case only be fixed if the chief minister's counsel assures that on that day she will definitely come.
They asked, "Why Dikshit is playing hide-and-seek with the court. Is it that the law cannot do anything to her?"
Meanwhile, Pracha with the court's permission spoke directly with Dikshit over phone regarding what date will suit her for coming to court and thereafter informed the judge that on April 4, 5 and 6 she can come to court.
The next date was fixed by the court subsequent to the submission made by Pracha.
In June 2012, the court had issued summons against the BJP leader on Dikshit's allegation that he had used "uncivilised language" to defame her before the MCD polls.
The chief minister had also filed a civil suit in the Delhi high court demanding a token damage of Rs one from Gupta for erecting hoardings across the city in which her government was accused of conniving with private discoms and indulging in corruption in fixing power tariff.
Gupta, however, had contended in the high court that "fair" criticism is part and parcel of a healthy democracy.
The chief minister had testified that she had sent legal notices to Gupta after the civic polls but the BJP leader did not apologise and rather stood by his remarks.