18 Sep 2023 12:54 PM GMT
The Gujarat High Court today refused to grant urgent circulation of the petitions filed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh seeking quashing of an order of the Magistrate Court issuing them summons in the defamation complaint filed against them over their comments 'targeting' the Gujarat University seeking educational degree of Prime Minister...
The Gujarat High Court today refused to grant urgent circulation of the petitions filed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh seeking quashing of an order of the Magistrate Court issuing them summons in the defamation complaint filed against them over their comments 'targeting' the Gujarat University seeking educational degree of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the morning, Senior advocate Percy Kavina, assisted by advocate Aum Kotwal, for the AAP leaders, prayed before a bench of Justice Samir J. Dave to allow an urgent circulation and listing of the petitions for September 21 on the grounds that the Magistrate court is set to take up the criminal defamation matters on September 23.
The bench, however, refused to pass any instructions to the registry for urgent circulation of the petitions.
As reported by Live Law earlier today, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Rajyasabha MP Sanjay Singh have moved the High Court challenging the issuance of summons by a Magistrate Court in the defamation complaint filed by the Gujarat University.
The appeal has been filed 4 days after a Sessions Court in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad dismissed a revision application of the duo.
In the criminal defamation complaint, the University’s Registrar Dr Piyush M.Patel has alleged that Kejriwal and Singh had made sarcastic and defamatory statements in press conferences and on Twitter handles targeting the university over Modi's degree.
It may be noted that the alleged comments were made by Kejriwal at a press conference on April 1, and Singh made the utterances at a second press conference conducted on April 2. Thereafter, the Gujarat University filed a criminal defamation complaint against them before a magistrate court in Ahmedabad.
Averments made in CM Kejriwal’s appeal
In his appeal, Kejriwal has stated that the alleged defamatory comments were made by him in a press conference wherein he had raised an important issue pertaining to the degree of the Prime Minister of India and that by doing so, he had discharged his duty of awakening the people of India by stating that the great nation India deserves educated and qualified persons to hold the constitutional post including the Prime Minister of India and hence, the said statements cannot amount to defamation.
The case against Kejriwal and Singh
In the criminal complaint filed by Gujarat University, the following statements have been objected to and have been termed as defamatory:
"अगर डिग्री है और वो सही है तो डिग्री दी क्यों नहीं जा रही है...गुजरात और दिल्ली यूनिवर्सिटी डिग्री क्यों नहीं दे रही हैं? डिग्री इसलिए नहीं दे रहे हैं कि डिग्री हो सकता है फर्जी हो, डिग्री नकली हो...अगर प्रधानमंत्री जी दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय से पढे, गुजरात यूनिवर्सिटी से पढे, तो गुजरात यूनिवर्सिटी को सेलीब्रेट करना चाहिए कि हमारा लड़का जो है देश का प्रधानमंत्री बन गया...वो उनकी डिग्री को छुपने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं...(यूनिवर्सिटी) प्रधानमंत्री की फर्जी डिग्री को सही साबित करने में जुट गई [If degree is there and it is correct then why degree is not being given... Why Gujarat and Delhi University are not giving degree? The degree is not being given because the degree may be fake... If the Prime Minister studied from Delhi University, Gujarat University, then Gujarat University should celebrate that our boy has become the Prime Minister of the country. ...it is trying to hide his degree...[Univerisity] put his all to prove a fake degree (of PM) as right],"
The complaint states that the alleged statement was made right after the Gujarat High Court’s order of quashing and setting aside the 2016 order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing the Gujarat University to provide “information regarding degrees in the name of Mr Narendra Damodar Modi" to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The Complaint further states that immediately after the Gujarat High Court's order, Kejriwal made defamatory statements against Gujarat University in a press conference despite being aware of the fact that the Prime Minister's degree had been published on the University's website long back.
Notably, the university has also contended in its complaint that CM Kejriwal made the statements in his “personal capacity” and “not affairs of the State”.
In April this year, the additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Jayeshbhai Chovatiya found that prima facie, both Kejriwal and Singh appeared to have targeted the Gujarat University as the words uttered by them were sarcastic and meant to target the Gujarat University's image in the minds of the people.
The Court also opined that if the political office bearers, instead of fulfilling their duty to their people, do any work directly or indirectly for their personal enmity or selfishness, to harm the opponents or the same person, and if they utter any such words, those words will be considered a violation of the trust placed by the people and the words uttered will be considered personal.
It is in that order that the Court directed their personal presence before the Court by issuing them summons.