Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal was on Friday put on trial by a Delhi court on charges of defamation on a complaint filed against him by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari.
Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha framed the notice under Section 251 of the CrPC (dealing with issuance of summons in such complaints) against Kejriwal and fixed the matter for recording of evidence of Gadkari and his witnesses on August 2.
The court framed the charge after Kejriwal, former Delhi chief minister, refused to heed to the magistrate's suggestion to amicably resolve the case filed against him by Gadkari, even after the Union minister indicated that if the AAP leader was ready to withdraw his alleged defamatory statement he would drop his complaint.
"That on January 30, 2014, you made and published imputations/statements against the complainant Nitin Gadkari in the media stating that he is a corrupt politician and that people should see whether they should vote....," the magistrate said in the order.
The court, however, allowed the plea of Kejriwal seeking exemption from personal appearance.
After the court framed the notice, Kejriwal pleaded not guilty of the offence and claimed trial.
The court, in the morning session today, had advised Kejriwal to bury the hatchet and amicably settle the issue with Gadkari.
“Why don't you both shake hands before the court and finish the matter on an amicable note? Why don't you bury your hatchet and utilise time in a more productive manner?” the court said.
“You both are renowned politicians, people look up to you,” the court added.
Gadkari, who appeared before the court in the case, told the court that honesty is his political strength and his reputation is his capital.
“I am an honest politician and damage has been caused to my reputation by the defamatory allegation levelled against me by Kejriwal. I don't have any personal enmity against Kejriwal," Gadkari said.
Gadkari also told the court that he was ready to resolve the issue if Kejriwal withdraws his statement.
"I am ready to fight the legal battle. Let the inquiry against me proceed and charges be proved against me in public," he said.
Kejriwal, however, refused to withdraw his statement and allegations which he had levelled against Gadkari.
"I can't withdraw my statement and allegation. I have documentary proof for all the allegations," Kejriwal said.
On May 27, Kejriwal had obtained bail from the trial court by furnishing a personal bond.
Kejriwal was earlier summoned as an accused by the court in the defamation complaint in which Gadkari had alleged that he was defamed by the AAP leader who had included his name in the party's list of "India's most corrupt".