Thursday, 27 July 2017

Kejriwal denies asking lawyer Jethmalani to use offensive word against minister; Jethmalani disagrees and quits; Legally defensible public allegations in India today

One of India's top lawyers, Ram Jethmalani, quits from representing Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal, in defamation case against him.

Jethmalani is reported to say that he referred to a senior politician who is a powerful minister in the Union govt. now, as a crook, in the Delhi High Court on instructions from Kejriwal, his client. Kejriwal is reported to deny that. So, according to the report, Jethmalani is accusing Kejriwal of being a liar, and so is quitting from the task of representing him.

BTW the powerful minister who was referred to as crook in the Delhi High Court as mentioned above, filed an additional defamation case seeking Rs. 10 crore [Rs. 100 million] damages for being referred to as crook in the Delhi High Court by Jethmalani as the lawyer representing Kejriwal. So that minister did ramp up the pressure with the additional lawsuit which seems to have separated the lawyer Jethmalani from his client Kejriwal! This is the power of lawsuits in India today!

Jethmalani clarifies that he does not have any problems if Kejriwal does NOT pay him his [Ravi: astronomical] fees, as he (Jethmalani) claims to "have worked for free for thousands of people". http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/ram-jethmalani-quits-as-arvind-kejriwals-counsel-in-defamation-case-ddca-arun-jaitley-4767664/, dated 26th July 2017
-----------------------------------------------

Later Update.

Some additional details from article, Defamation case filed by Arun Jaitley: Ram Jethmalani quits as CM Arvind Kejriwal’s lawyer, seeks Rs 2 crore fee, http://indianexpress.com/article/india/defamation-case-filed-by-arun-jaitley-ram-jethmalani-quits-as-cm-arvind-kejriwals-lawyer-seeks-rs-2-crore-fee-4768651/, dated 27-Jul-2017, are given below.

It states that Jethmalani's office has sent a bill of over Rs. 2 crore [Rs. 20 million] to CM of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal. But it reports Jethmalani as also saying, “Nahi dega, toh nahi dega (If he doesn’t pay, he doesn’t pay), I work for thousands of people for free.”

Note that the first defamation suit filed by the powerful minister against Arvind Kejriwal and some other functionaries of his party, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) (Commmon Man party in English), was for Rs. 10 crores [Rs. 100 million]. The second defamation suit as reported in earlier article mentioned above was also for Rs. 10 crores [Rs. 100 million].

This report states that in response to the second defamation suit, Kejriwal filed an affidavit "stating that there was no instruction from him to his counsel to use objectionable remarks against" the powerful minister in the defamation case.

So Kejriwal has refuted Jethmalani's statement that he asked him (Jethmalani) to refer to the powerful minister in Delhi High Court as crook, in a court affidavit (which I think is like a signed statement from him under oath to the court). That precipitated Jethmalani quitting from representing Kejriwal in this case.

The report also states that Delhi govt had earlier cleared Rs 3.5 crores [Rs. 35 million] payment to Jethmalani. It states that Jethmalani's retainer charge was Rs. 1 crore and that for each appearance in court (Delhi High Court) he charged Rs. 22 lakh.

Ravi: Hmm. The lawyer fees as reported here is the 3.5 crores already paid + 2 crores more i.e. Rs. 5.5 crores which is over half the main lawsuit demand of Rs. 10 crores from the powerful minister!

I think Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal as well as his fellow Aam Aadmi Party members will now be very careful in making corruption related allegations without strong evidence that will back their allegations in an Indian court of law, against top political leaders of other parties of the country.

In general my understanding of legally defensible/safe public writing/speaking on such matters under Indian law today is that allegations of criminal wrongdoing (e.g. taking bribes, record-tampering) against named persons should be made publicly only if the person making the criminal allegations is willing to provide strong evidence backing those allegations in a court of law. Allegations about unethical behaviour but which is not criminal conduct does not need to have such proof/evidence so long as the allegations are true AND the public allegations have some social good purpose. For example, if somebody in an administratively powerful position is referred to as having made an oral insult or sadistic barb against some staff/associate to dominate and bully the person, the latter can publicly state so even if the latter cannot prove it, provided the latter is willing to testify in an Indian court of law that it was said to him AND make the case that one of the goals of the public allegation is to prevent/reduce similar domination/bullying by administrators over other staff/associates.

[I thank indianexpress.com and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me referencing the two articles mentioned above from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

No comments:

Post a Comment