Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday filed both civil and criminal defamation cases against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other Aam Aadmi Party leaders for allegedly defaming him and sought Rs 10 crore in damages and their prosecution for offences that entails a punishment of upto two years in jail.
A week after a Central Bureau of Investigation raid on the chief minister's secretariat against his principal secretary that triggered allegations by AAP against Jaitley in the affairs of the Delhi's cricket body DDCA, the minister took the legal recourse saying the AAP leaders' "malicious and defamatory" campaign was causing irreversible damage to him.
The others who have been named in both the petitions are Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai.
The Patiala House courts in the heart of the city saw the rare spectacle of a union minister walking amidst a jostling crowd of Bharatiya Janata Party supporters, who shouted slogans against Kejriwal, to enter the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal to file the criminal complaint.
Jaitley came to the court a little after lunch at 2.05 pm and the proceedings lasted 35 minutes. A phalanx of union ministers, including M Venkaiah Naidu, Smriti Irani, Dharmendra Pradhan and J P Nadda, also came to the court and later said they were showing solidarity with Jaitley describing him as a man of impeccable integrity.
The complaint was filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including 499 (defamation), 500 (punishment), 501 and 502 (printing and sale of defamatory matter).
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, who appeared for Jaitley, himself an eminent lawyer, pleaded for immediately recording the minister's statement but the court just took cognisance of the complaint and posted the case for January 5 when Jaitley will record his testimony.
Earlier in the day, Jaitley filed a civil suit in the Delhi high court against Kejriwal and five others AAP leaders for issuing allegedly false and defamatory statements against him and his family members.
Jaitley's counsel advocate Manik Dogra said the civil suit, in which he has sought Rs 10 crores as damages, will come up in the normal course of listing.
During the hearing, Luthra told the court that the AAP leaders have made completely baseless and defamatory allegations regarding alleged financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association.
"Jaitley has not drawn a single penny from the DDCA. Completely baseless and defamatory allegations have been levelled against him and his family members," he said.
In the criminal defamation complaint, Jaitley said Kejriwal and other AAP leaders with common intention have from December 15 "undertaken a false, malicious and defamatory campaign against Jaitley and his family members for political mileage causing irreversible damage to him."
It was done to deflect issues from an unrelated search during investigation by the CBI of a bureaucrat in the secretariat of the Delhi government based on a complaint by a third party, he said.
The complaint referred to some of the allegations made by AAP leaders in press conferences, including one that claimed that the CBI raided the office of Delhi government official looking for Jaitley's "tax scam files" and that there was corruption worth several hundred crores under Jaitley's tenure and that he had shielded DDCA for over 15 years.
Jaitley said such statements have been made orally and through Twitter handle of the AAP leaders which have been carried by electronic and print media from December 15 to December 20.
Referring to the allegation to create an impression that Rs 57 crore have been siphoned off in the reconstruction of the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium, Jaitley said the truth was that this was one of the stadiums with modern facilities built in India for a most economical amount of Rs 114 crore.
On the contrary, the mere renovation of Jawaharlal Nehru stadium for Commonwealth Games 2010 had cost the government Rs 900 crore and renovation of Dhyanchand stadium was to the tune of Rs 600 crore, he said.
"The complainant has always remained concerned about his reputation and credibility and has always conducted himself with utmost probity and integrity in each of his action.
"Even when the complainant was discharging the functions as President of the DDCA, he had never even imagined of taking any pecuniary advantage for himself or any of his family members.
"It is available on the records of the DDCA that what to talk of imagining taking of any pecuniary benefit, throughout his tenure as the President of DDCA, the complainant has not even legitimate reimbursement of his expenses from the DDCA," he said in his complaint.
In the civil suit, he said, "by all acts of omissions and commissions by the defendants including making false, baseless, scandalous, malicious statements/allegations against the plaintiff, they have made themselves liable individually and collectively for the irreversible and unquantifiable damage caused to the plaintiff."
"All defendants individually and collectively have made themselves liable to compensate the plaintiff for a sum of Rs 10 crore," the plea said appealing to the court to pass a decree of damages against the defendants.
The civil suit is likely to come up for hearing on Tuesday.