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Arvind Kejriwal arrested in Nitin Gadkari defamation case

New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal was on Wednesday taken into judicial custody by the Delhi Police in connection with the a criminal defamation complaint filed by senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Nitin Gadkari. Kejriwal had alleged that Gadkari was one of the most corrupt leaders of India following which the BJP leader had moved court.
Kejriwal refused to submit a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and will remain in judicial custody till May 23 when the court of metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha will take up the case again for hearing.
“The procedure of the court’s cannot be thrown to the winds at the whims and fancies of the litigants. The court cannot act as a kite spectator when a particular litigant intentionally seeks to violate procedures of law. This case cannot be dealt with any differently than other criminal cases. The accused cannot seek preferential treatment to be let off only on oral undertaking in violation to settled practices regarding bail,” metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha observed while sending Kejriwal to judicial custody.
Kejriwal’s close aide and AAP leader Manish Sisodia said that it was not a matter of money. “It’s the matter of principles. If calling Nitin Gadkari a thief is a crime, we are ready to go to jail,” said Sisodia.
His colleague Ashutosh defended Kejriwal’s stand to not pay the bail bond. “The party is fighting against the corruption. We do not want to furnish any bond, this is our stand. We are fighting against corruption. This is a political fight,” said Ashutosh.
He added that the party had not anticipated that Kejriwal would be sent to judicial custody. Another APP leader Gopal Rai said that the party leadership would meet soon to discuss the fallout of Kejriwal arrest.
Gadkari, a former BJP president, had filed the case before metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha in Delhi in mid-February. He had said that Kejriwal has tarnished his image by calling him corrupt.
After Kejriwal refused to furnish a bail bond, the metropolitan magistrate asked him if is looking for “some exceptional treatment”.
Kejriwal, who appeared before the court in pursuance to the summons issued against him, told metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha that he was ready to give an undertaking that he will appear before the court but refused to furnish bail bond to secure bail.
During the hearing, the magistrate observed, “I completely agree but why he (Kejriwal) will not furnish bail bond? What is the problem? There is a procedure and why should we follow different procedure in this case.”
“I agree he will appear in the court but the procedure is that a person has to file bail bond. Are you looking for some exception treatment?” Manocha asked.
On January 31, Kejriwal had accused several politicians of being “corrupt” and had said AAP will field candidates against them in Lok Sabha elections.
Kejriwal, who also argued in the court, told the judge that he has not committed any heinous crime and added that he was not looking for any exceptional treatment.
“This is my principle that when I have not done anything wrong, I will not seek bail. I am ready to go to jail,” he said.
Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Rahul Mehra, who appeared for Kejriwal, told the magistrate that these cases are of political nature and, in line with the principles of the AAP, they will not furnish bail bond.
Bhushan also argued that there was no possibility that Kejriwal would tamper with the evidence or influence the witnesses and filing of undertaking was correct.
Senior advocate Pinki Anand, who appeared for Gadkari, opposed the contentions of defence counsel, saying there was no procedure in law to furnish undertaking and law should not vary for anyone.
After hearing both parties, the court reserved its order for 4pm on the issue of filing of undertaking by Kejriwal.
The court had earlier directed Kejriwal to positively appear before it on Wednesday in the defamation case.
On February 28, the court had summoned Kejriwal as an accused in the criminal defamation complaint, observing that statements allegedly made by the AAP leader have the effect of “harming the reputation” of the complainant.
The summon was issued against Kejriwal on a complaint in which Gadkari had alleged that he was defamed by Kejriwal, who had included his name in the party’s list of “India’s most corrupt”.
During the day’s proceedings, the counsel appearing for Gadkari moved an application seeking exemption on behalf of the BJP leader. The court allowed the plea.
As soon as the hearing began, Bhushan said Kejriwal would give an undertaking that he would appear before the court but he would not furnish any bail bond.
Senior advocate Pinky Anand, however, opposed it saying law is equal for all and Kejriwal should furnish bail bond.
Advocate Mehra argued that they were not asking for any “special treatment” and the procedures nowhere say that a person cannot file an undertaking.
At this juncture, the magistrate said, “This is not a state case. This is a complaint case. I have no problem if you give an undertaking. But why there should be a divergent view in this case only?”
“When you are representing AAP, we expect you to behave like an ‘Aam Aadmi’. Let the procedure be same for every one. Is there a problem in furnishing bail bond?” the magistrate said.
The magistrate also observed, “what you (Kejriwal) are asking for is differential treatment.”
To this, Kejriwal said that this was basically a political case and he has not committed any crime.
“We are starting a new initiative (of filing undertaking). We are setting a precedence. I am not saying that give this treatment only to me. Give it to all,” the AAP leader said.
The magistrate, however, said this is a defamation complaint and procedures cannot be simplified in this case.
Gadkari’s counsel argued that the court should pass an order on the issue.
(via CNN-IBN with additional inputs from PTI)