The Delhi High Court Wednesday stayed the trial court order issuing summons to BJP MLA Vijender Gupta in a criminal defamation complaint filed by Delhi Cabinet Minister Kailash Gahlot.
Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri sought the AAP leader’s stand on Mr Gupta’s challenge to the summons issued to him for making alleged defamatory statements on purported irregularities in the procurement of 1,000 low floor buses by the Delhi Transport Corporation.
The judge listed the case for hearing on March 4 and said, “In the meantime, the order shall remain stayed”.
The court also sought the state’s stand on the plea.
Mr Gupta was summoned as an accused by the trial court on October 11 on the Delhi Transport Minister’s complaint and was asked to appear before it on November 16.
The trial court had said there was prima facie enough evidence to summon Gupta as an accused for the alleged offence of defamation.
Senior lawyer Ajay Burman, appearing for Mr Gupta, argued that his client was “squarely covered” under the exceptions to defamation under the Indian Penal Code as the statements were made in discharge of public service as a leader of opposition.
He also alleged that the criminal defamation complaint was not maintainable before a magisterial court.
The court was also informed that another single-judge of the high court had earlier refused to grant any ex-parte interim relief to the minister on his suit against the allegedly defamatory tweets.
Senior advocate Manish Vashisht, appearing for Mr Gahlot, stated that Mr Gupta’s tweets were “absolutely scandalous” and made in the absence of any “conclusive finding by any judicial body”.
“You are doing dharna outside my house. You are defaming me in front of my family,” he stated.
In his complaint before the trial court, Mr Gahlot has alleged that Mr Gupta “intentionally and for malafide purposes” defamed him and tarnished his reputation to gain political mileage.
He claimed that Mr Gupta levelled “defamatory, scandalous, mischievous, false and scurrilous allegations” verbally as well as in writing.
The complaint also said that “vilifying and scandalous” allegations were made by the accused in order to stall the “ambitious project of the Delhi Government to give major relief to the residents of Delhi”.
“The accused made scurrilous, misplaced, and false allegations against the complainant with an intention to teach people of Delhi a lesson for voting in favour of Aam Aadmi Party,” the plea had alleged. It has claimed that Gupta made unabated tweets doubting the integrity of the minister in relation to the purchase of the low floor buses, in spite of a clean-chit being given by a high-powered committee.
It said the Delhi government floated a tender for buses and after due process, it was awarded to Tata but all sorts of allegations were made.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)