Kejriwal Defamation Case Controversy: Jethmalani Offers Services Free of Charge
New Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal: In yet another controversial development in Delhi, CM Arvind Kejriwal expects taxpayer to pay the cost of his defense in the civil and criminal defamation case filed against him by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The case, accusing Kejriwal of making unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against Jaitley for the period when he was the head of Delhi and District Cricket Association, the main cricket administration body for Delhi and its surrounding areas, was filed in 2015.
Jethmalani has reportedly quoted Rs 1 crore retainership for representing Kejriwal and an additional Rs 22 lakh per appearance. Till date Jethmalani has made 11 appearances, notching the cost at Rs 3.42 crore. This is even before the cross examination stage is over.
Deputy Delhi CM, Manish Sisodia, had signed off these legal bills and sent them for approval to Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who has sought the opinion of experts on how to proceed.
According to AAP, the Delhi government should foot the bill as the case targets the office of the chief minister and not an individual. However, a legal analyst brought to notice that Jaitley and Kejriwal were both fighting the case in their personal capacities. Kejriwal should have invoked Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code if he had wanted to turn it into a matter involving the Delhi CM.
Meanwhile, post the controversy, Jethmalani has said that if Kejriwal is unable to afford to pay his fee, he will render his services free of cost to the CM. "I will certainly defend him even if he can't pay, but he said 'no, I want to pay, send us the bills', so I have sent bills. If it is incumbent on me to support him and his livelihood I will support him, because he is a clean force as opposed to Arun Jaitley," said Jethmalani, adding, “"Everybody knows this in this country that I charge only the rich, but for poor people I do work free and the poor people are about 90 percent of my client." The 93-year-old lawyer politician was expelled from Jaitley’s party, the BJP, four years ago.