In a major embarrassment to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, after Ram Jethmalani called Kejriwal a liar and quit as his counsel, another senior lawyer who was defending him in the defamation suit against Union Minister Arun Jaitley also called it quits. In a letter sent to Kejriwal’s filing counsel, senior lawyer Anoop George Chaudhari said he won’t be appearing any further in the case being heard by Delhi high court citing “embarrassment” in court due to “inadequate briefing”.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley in December 2015 had filed a defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal and 5 others for what he claimed were false allegations regarding his alleged role in certain irregularities in the DDCA (Delhi & District Cricket Association). Jaitley sought compensation of 10 crore rupees due to damages caused by alleged defamatory statements by Kejriwal. After the case was filed, Kejriwal sought the legal help of eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani to untangle himself from the mess. But for Kejriwal, hiring Jethmalani resulted in him getting into a further mess. During a hearing in May 2017, Ram Jethmalani went into an overdrive and called Arun Jaitley a “crook”, to which Jaitley lodged a strong objection. When Jethmalani was asked whether he was authorised by Kejriwal to use the term, Jethmalani answered in affirmative. Following which, Jaitley filed another defamation case against Kejriwal.
In a twist in the tale, in July last year, Jethmalani called Kejriwal a ‘liar’ and quit as his counsel. Jethmalani had also asked Kejriwal to settle his pending legal fees, which amounted over Rs 2 crore as per media estimates. In February last year, the Delhi government, on behalf of the Chief Minister and the five other AAP leaders, had cleared a bill of Rs 3.5 crore to Jethmalani by burdening the exchequer.
In his letter, Chaudhari has said, he is ‘withdrawing due to inadequate briefing, which resulted in an embarrassing situation before Justice Endlaw on February 12.’ The letter further states, ‘Because of this lackadaisical and casual approach in briefing, the defendant is bound to suffer and I most certainly would not like to be a party to it’.
The court is scheduled to record Jaitley’s evidence in the Rs. 10 crore defamation suit filed by him against Kejriwal, and five other AAP leaders, Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and Deepak Bajpai.