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SC stays defamation trial of Kejriwal, seeks Centre’s response

Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today got a reprieve from the Supreme Court which not only stayed his prosecution in two criminal defamation cases but also sought a reply from the Centre on his plea challenging constitutional validity of the penal provisions.

“Issue notice returnable in six weeks,” a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said, adding that the the proceedings in two criminal defamation cases against the Chief Minister in Delhi trial courts would remain stayed.

The apex court stayed the prosecution of Kejriwal in two defamation complaints separately filed by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and advocate Surender Kumar Sharma.

The Aam Aadmi Party leader is facing prosecution after being summoned as an accused under sections 499 (defamation), 500 (punishment for defamation) on a complaint lodged by Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.

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”. The trial is pending and the Union Minister has recently partly recorded his statement in the case.

The other defamation case whose trial was also stayed today, was filed against Kejriwal, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Yogendra Yadav by Sharma alleging that they had made defamatory statements against him in news articles after denying him a party ticket for the 2013 Delhi assembly polls.

At a brief hearing today, the court allowed the plea of senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for Kejriwal, that the trial be stayed as was done in the case of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

The bench also said the plea of Kejriwal be tagged along with the pending petition of Swamy as both of them were seeking quashing of the penal provisions on the offence of defamation.

Earlier, it had asked the Centre to respond to the plea of Swamy challenging validity of the two penal provisions.

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