Defamation case: Kejriwal, Sanjay Singh challenge Gujarat court’s summons for July 26 appearance

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP MP Sanjay Singh on Tuesday filed revision applications in the sessions court here challenging the summons against them by a lower court for personal appearance on July 26 in a defamation case filed by the Gujarat University.

Sessions court judge AJ Kanani issued notice to the Gujarat Government and the GU on the revision pleas, and posted the hearing on August 5.

GU Registrar Piyush Patel had lodged a defamation complaint against Kejriwal and Singh, a Rajya Sabha member, over their comments after the Gujarat High Court set aside the Chief Information Commissioner’s order on PM Narendra Modi’s educational degree.

Kejriwal and Singh filed revision petitions separately under section 397 of CrPC- which allows sessions courts to call for and examine the record of any lower court proceeding to check the correctness, legality or propriety of any finding, sentence or order.

In April, a magistrate’s court admitted a criminal defamation case based on a complaint lodged by the GU and issued summons to both the leaders of AAP to record their statements over their “sarcastic” and “derogatory” statements with regard to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s education degree.

In the last hearing held on July 13, the defence filed an exemption application saying Kejriwal and Singh could not appear due to heavy rains in Delhi, following which, additional chief metropolitan magistrate S J Panchal directed the duo to remain present on July 26.

In the revision pleas, both the leaders of AAP said the magistrate court had “committed an error of law” by passing the summoning order.

The revision plea states that section 199 of the CrPC stipulates that a complaint of defamation can only be instituted by “a person aggrieved”. However, the complaint itself “does not even allege that Piyush Patel, the GU Registrar, has been claimed to have been defamed”.

Moreover, the authority letter given at the instance of GU’s vice chancellor to Patel (to be a complainant), does not have any reference to the complaint or cause of action and even the name of the AAP leaders were also missing in that letter, the plea said.

The AAP leaders stated in their pleas that the summoning order was “self-contradictory”. On the one hand, the magistrate had mentioned in his order that the statements were targeting political opponents. However, the findings in the order suggest that GU was the target of satirical words, said the plea.

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Both the AAP leaders urged the sessions court judge to admit their revision pleas, quash and set aside the summoning order and call for and examine the proceedings of the magistrate’s court.

They also urged the court to quash and set aside the main defamation complaint.

In the complaint, GU Registrar Piyush Patel stated that the utterances of Kejriwal and Singh against the varsity were defamatory and intended to hurt its reputation.

The varsity had argued that the statements by Kejriwal and Singh would make a person believe that the GU issues fake and bogus degrees.

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