New Delhi, October 22, 2016: A court here on Saturday framed charges against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a criminal defamation case filed by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Ramesh Bidhuri.
Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh put Kejriwal on trial after he pleaded not guilty.
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Posting the matter for December 23, the court granted Kejriwal permanent exemption from personal appearance in the case.
However, the court said, it may direct Kejriwal to appear personally in the case, if the need arose in future.
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The court is hearing the defamation complaint of Bidhuri, who alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party leader Kejriwal made defamatory statements by terming him a criminal in an interview given to a private channel on July 17 last year.
Bidhuri told the court that Kejriwal’s statements had maligned him and sullied his image.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s adviser V. K. Jain on Thursday told police that he saw AAP MLAs Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal “physically assaulting” Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash, according to Jain’s statement recorded by the Delhi Police.
The AAP defended by stating that Jain had initially told police that he did not witness any assault and police has threatened Jain to change his statement.
On Tuesday, the Chief Secretary had alleged that he was beaten up by the two AAP MLAs in the presence of Kejriwal at the Chief Minister’s residence on Monday night, where he had been called for an emergency meeting.
Police later arrested Khan and Jarwal and they were sent to judicial custody till Thursday.
According to the Chief Secretary, the Chief Minister’s adviser had called him over the phone and asked him to come to the Chief Minister’s residence for the meeting and Jain was also present there.
On Thursday, the Delhi Police submitted Jain’s statement at a city court, which said that Jain had gone to the washroom during the meeting and as he came out he saw the two AAP MLAs “physically assaulting” the Chief Secretary.
The statement was recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC, which means that it was recorded in front of the police and not a magistrate.
Sources told IANS that Jain later recorded his statement in front of a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC.
“The statement under section 164 was later recorded with the magistrate in front a camera, without the presence of police. In that statement also he (Jain) has said that he saw the two MLAs physically assaulting the Chief Secretary,” a police officer privy to the case told IANS.
The officer said that the statement under section 164 has also been submitted to the court.
Jain was first questioned on Wednesday morning and then again on Thursday and his statement was recorded on Thursday.
The change in Jain’s statement that the AAP was referring to was from a “question and answer” with Jain recorded by police after questioning him on Wednesday.
According to a copy of Wednesday’s “question and answer” recorded by police, when asked whether Jain saw the Chief Secretary being manhandled, he replied that he had gone to the washroom in between the meeting and he could not say what happened during that time.
“By putting pressure on him (Jain) throughout the day (Thursday) and by threatening him, police has forced him to change his statement,” AAP MP Sanjay Singh told the media here on Thursday.
“How is it that the same Jain who emphatically said yesterday that he witnessed no assault during the entire time that he was present there has now claimed otherwise?” he asked.
Singh said that AAP MLAs were being arrested over an alleged assault of which there was no proof.
“But on the other hand, despite there being video footage of officials assaulting Delhi Cabinet Minister Imran Hussain, there is no action taken against the guilty by the Delhi Police,” the AAP MP said.
The court on Thursday sent the two AAP MLAs, arrested on charges of assaulting the Chief Secretary, to judicial custody for 14 days.
Orders on the bail pleas of the two AAP MLAs and also on their police custody will be pronounced on Friday.
Meanwhile, scores of Delhi government employees across the city observed a five-minute silence outside their respective offices as a protest against the alleged assault on the Chief Secretary.
The IAS Association said that officers would continue the protest every day, till steps are taken to “ensure safety and dignity” of government staff in the city.
The AAP also hit out at Lt Governor Anil Baijal by stating that he was “working as a BJP agent” and demanded action against those involved in “manhandling and beating up” Hussain and his aide at the Delhi Secretariat on Tuesday. (IANS)