New Delhi, Mar 9(PTI) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders were today summoned as accused in a criminal defamation complaint filed by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley by a court here which directed them to appear before it on April 7 while noting that allegations were "derogatory" and amounted to "slander and libel".
Besides Kejriwal, the court also summoned Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Kumar Vishwas, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpai, observing that the allegations levelled by them against Jaitley were "not only insulting but jeeringly taunting and provocative".
"The allegations are not only insulting but jeeringly taunting and provocative. I have no hesitation to hold that the allegations levelled by the respondents (Kejriwal and five others) are derogatory in nature and amount to slander and libel," Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) Sumit Dass said.
The court summoned these six accused for alleged offences under section 500 (defamation) of the IPC read with section 34 (common intention) the IPC and directed them to appear before it on April 7.
The order came on Jaitley's criminal defamation complaint in which he had said that Kejriwal and these five AAP leaders had allegedly defamed him in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) controversy.
In its 30-page order, the court observed that the freedom of speech and expression was not an absolute right, "but one that is hedged with reasonable restrictions, with the law of defamation being the primary one."
"The language of public discourse ought to be within the confines of decency, if it transgresses those limits and becomes insulting, offensive and laced with innuendos, same may amount to defamation and become actionable at the end of the person aggrieved," it said.
Referring to the statements and Facebook and Twitter posts of the accused, the court said, "The statements have exposed the complainant (Jaitley) to ridicule, hatred and contempt amongst the right-thinking members of the society and lowered his reputation."
"The statements in the light of the pre-summoning evidence led (by Jaitley) manifest that the underlying common intent was to paint the complainant as a person of dubious integrity, involved in embezzlement of funds through unscrupulous deals," the court noted in its order.