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HC Asks BJP Leader To Respond To Kejriwal, Others Plea Challenging Summons In Defamation Case

The court sought the law ministry’s response after going through a statement by the World Health Organisation, which has declared virginity testing as unscientific, medically unnecessary and unreliable.

The court sought the law ministry’s response after going through a statement by the World Health Organisation, which has declared virginity testing as unscientific, medically unnecessary and unreliable.

The Delhi High Court Monday asked BJP leader Rajeev Babbar to file reply to a plea by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders challenging summons issued to them in a defamation case for their alleged remarks over deletion of voters' names from electoral rolls in the national capital. Justice Anu Malhotra said the reply be filed before the next date of hearing and listed the matter for hearing on November 23.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Monday asked BJP leader Rajeev Babbar to file reply to a plea by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders challenging summons issued to them in a defamation case for their alleged remarks over deletion of voters’ names from electoral rolls in the national capital. Justice Anu Malhotra said the reply be filed before the next date of hearing and listed the matter for hearing on November 23.

The high court on February 28, stayed the defamation proceedings in the trial court and had issued notice to the Delhi government and Babbar, who moved the defamation complaint on behalf of the party’s Delhi unit, seeking their responses by April 23. However, the matter could not be heard thereafter due to restricted court proceedings to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

While Kejriwal and AAP leaders were represented through senior advocate Vikas Pahwa and lawyer RA Iyer, Babbar was represented through advocate Ajay Digpaul who said he will file a reply as certain facts needs to be brought to the court’s attention. On Monday, the high court said the matter has to be heard expeditiously in terms of the directions of the Supreme Court.

On September 16, the apex court passed an order asking the chief justices of all high courts to forthwith list before an appropriate bench all pending criminal cases involving sitting and former lawmakers where the stay was granted. In the event that a stay is considered necessary, the court should hear the matter on a day-to-day basis and dispose of the same expeditiously, preferably within a period of two months, without any unnecessary adjournment, the top court had said.

The top court had passed the order in a petition which was filed in 2016 and raised the issue of inordinately delay in disposal of criminal cases against former and sitting lawmakers. In the present case before the high court, Kejriwal and three others — Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Rajya Sabha member Sushil Kumar Gupta and party leaders Manoj Kumar and Atishi Marlena — have challenged a sessions court order which upheld a magisterial court’s decision to summon them as accused in the complaint.

They have sought quashing of the magisterial court’s March 15, 2019 and sessions court’s January 28 this year orders. Babbar, in his complaint, has sought proceedings against them for “harming” the reputation of BJP by blaming it for the deletion of the names of voters from electoral rolls here.

He had claimed that the AAP leaders, during a press conference held in December 2018, alleged that on the directions of the BJP names of 30 lakh voters from Bania, Poorvanchali and the Muslim community had been deleted by the Election Commission. Kejriwal and others have claimed that the trial court failed to appreciate that no offence, whether defamation or otherwise, is made out against them.

The trial courts’ orders failed to appreciate that the AAP leaders did not make or publish any statement against Babbar or his party as alleged by him, the plea in the high court has claimed.

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