It is not a regular cross-examination at the registrar’s court at the Delhi High Court when scores of young lawyers flock to catch a glimpse of the proceedings.
Eminent jurists Ram Jethmalani and Arun Jaitley took on each other for four hours on Monday as the former had set at least 50 potent questions to be hurled at the Union Minister. The spectacle is set to continue on Tuesday.
The issue relates to a civil defamation suit filed by Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and few others.
Kejriwal and others allegedly made defamatory allegations against Jaitley and accused his handling of the Delhi District Cricket Administration or DDCA as “corrupt”. Jaitely had run the DDCA as president for 13 years.
As Twitter and a number of WhatsApp groups with lawyers cracked up on veteran Jethmalani’s questions, those in the court could not miss the composure Jaitley displayed.
The questions were meant to provoke, to attack, but Jaitley barely gave Jethmalani a chance. (Cue to law students on how to keep answers succinct).
Here are some of the 52 questions asked today:
Question: Since how long in the politics of this country, have you known Defendant 1 (Kejriwal)?
Answer: I have known Defendant 1 during the last one decade on account of his political and public activities.
Question: You have used the word “goodwill” in the letter addressed to the Deputy Registrar filed along with the plaint. Are you aware of the difference between ‘goodwill’ and ‘reputation’?
Answer: There are overlapping areas in the meaning of the two words and the counsel’s letter dated 21.12.2015, in that sense uses them interchangebly.
The choice of the word “goodwill” is of my lawyer. I do not remember whether I read the letter when I filed the plaint.
Question: I am showing you an authoritative dictionary of English language i.e., Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary. Do you see the difference in the meaning of the two words- reputation and goodwill- provided in the dictionary? (Objected to by the counsel for the plaintiff for the reason that only a recorded document can be confronted to the witness)
The question is disallowed as the same has to be argued and witness cannot be confronted with a dictionary for the meaning of two English words.
Question: I put to you that “goodwill is enjoyed even by a crook who has done something good to somebody”. What do you have to say?
Question is disallowed as it has no bearing on this case.
Question: Is it correct that men in power, who do good things for their good friends, enjoy a lot of goodwill?
Question disallowed as no general observations of the witness are called for.
If the cross-examination that happened today is anything to go by, tomorrow will be much more crackling.
Except that Jethmalani also might get a chair to rest himself, as did Jaitley. Today, the nonagenarian was on his feet.
Read the Transcript here.