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Court acquits Kejriwal, Sisodia, Yogendra Yadav in 2013 defamation case

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vidhi Gupta Anand said the complainant, advocate Surender Kumar Sharma, failed to prove that the accused have committed the alleged offence despite efforts

Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal

Press Trust of India New Delhi
A court here on Saturday acquitted Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and former AAP leader Yogendra Yadav in a defamation case filed by an advocate in 2013.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vidhi Gupta Anand said the complainant, advocate Surender Kumar Sharma (now deceased), failed to prove that the accused have committed the alleged offence despite several efforts.
In the order, the judge also said the concept of "Reputation was known in the society perhaps since the time the civilization itself established".
She quoted a text from Bhagwat Geeta "People also will speak of your unending infamy. And to an honoured person infamy is worse than death" and said the text "dates back to 2nd century CE (common era) highlighting the importance of a person's reputation".
"Even today, in modern India, governed by its Constitution, Right to reputation has been embedded as one of the fundamental rights covered under the larger concept of Right to Life. Hence, undoubtedly, since time immemorial, Indian society identifies reputation as a person's most prized possession and it holds even more importance for persons who are in the profession of public dealing; viz, advocates and politicians alike," the judge said.
In 81-page order, the judge noted that even though complainant alleged that the accused persons defamed him by getting the alleged news articles published on October 14, 2013 he has been unable to prove on record that the accused persons either authored or authorized the issuance of alleged press release dated October 13, 2013.
"Neither any media representative of the accused persons was brought in the witness box to prove the issuance of press release at the instance of the accused persons nor any first hand statement of any of the accused persons in respect of the alleged defamatory articles was brought on record," the judge noted.
She further said that there was no denial to the fact that nothing on record has been brought by the complainant to establish that it was the accused persons who got the alleged defamatory news articles published.
"Hence, at the outset, the complainant has been unable to prove any affirmative act on the part of the accused persons to constitute the offence of defamation," the judge said.
She added that when the complainant has been unable to prove that it was the accused persons who gave the alleged defamatory press release or the statements, no question arises to go into the discussion as to whether those statements were defamatory or not.
"In other words, where the foundation of the complaint case itself fails, the superstructure built on the same is bound to fail. Thus, this court has no hesitation in holding that despite examination of plethora of witnesses and bringing several documents on record, complainant failed to prove his case beyond all reasonable doubts as required in law,"she said.
The judge said that the complainant failed to prove that the accused have committed the alleged offence despite several efforts.
"In these circumstances, as a natural corollary following to the discussion above held, this court cannot hold the Accused persons guilty in the present case. In view of the appreciation of evidence as well as above held discussion, all the accused persons namely Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Yogender Yadav are held not guilty and acquitted for the charge leveled against them under section 500 IPC," the judge said.
According to the complaint, in 2013 he was approached by volunteers of AAP who had asked him to contest the Delhi assembly elections on a party ticket, saying Kejriwal was pleased with his social services.
He filled up the application form to contest the polls after being told by Sisodia and Yadav that AAP's Political Affairs Committee of the party had decided to give him the ticket.
However, it was later denied to him. On October 14, 2013, the complainant claimed that articles in leading newspapers carried "defamatory, unlawful and derogatory words used by the accused persons" which have lowered his reputation in the Bar and the society.
The complainant died on November 1, 2020 and the trial was continued till its end by the substituted complainant and his nephew, Yogesh Kumar Gaur, who is also an advocate by the profession.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Aug 20 2022 | 11:44 PM IST

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