A sessions court here on Thursday dismissed pleas of Aam Aadmi Party leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Sanjay Singh challenging summons issued to them by a trial court in a criminal defamation case over comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s educational qualification.
This means the AAP leaders will have to appear before the trial court when it fixes the date of the next hearing.
Sessions Judge J M Brahmbhatt upheld the decision of the trial court to summon the two AAP leaders and said that the trial court order was “neither illegal nor erroneous”.
“The present criminal revision application is hereby dismissed,” said the court in its order in the open court.
“Considering the facts of the present case, the magistrate (trial court) has reached the conclusions of subjective satisfaction and issued the process after analyzing and appreciating the material on record, which is neither patently illegal nor erroneous,” the court said.
“The order passed by Additional chief metropolitan magistrate is hereby confirmed,” the court further said. The criminal defamation case against Kejriwal and Singh has been filed by the Gujarat University (GU).
Kejriwal’s lawyer had argued that GU was akin to the “state” so it could file defamation cases. The lawyer also contended that the varsity registrar who filed the complaint has no authority to do so.
The sessions court, however, rejected the arguments saying the government has some control over GU but it is an independent university. The court also observed that registrar Piyush Patel who filed the complaint had produced an authority letter from the vice-chancellor of the university.
“Upon perusal of the trial court order, I am of the view that the learned magistrate has taken into consideration all the facts and circumstances of the case and issued the process,” the court observed.
Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal and Rajya Sabha member Singh are facing a criminal defamation case filed by the Gujarat University over their “sarcastic” and “derogatory” statements in connection with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degree.
Their pleas were heard in the court of sessions judge Brahmbhatt, days after the Gujarat High Court directed the matters to be assigned to another judge as the one who was presiding over them earlier went on leave. The HC had directed the principal judge of the sessions court to transfer the AAP leaders’ pleas to another court and get them decided within 10 days from the date on which they were assigned.
The two leaders had moved revision pleas before the sessions court challenging the summons issued by the trial court, but the matters were kept for next hearing on September 16, much after the date on which they were required to respond to the summons of the trial court. They then approached the HC.
The metropolitan court had summoned the two leaders after observing that prima facie there appeared to be a case against them under section 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code.
GU registrar Piyush Patel had filed a defamation case against Kejriwal and Singh over their comments after the Gujarat High Court set aside an order of the Chief Information Commissioner on PM Modi’s degree.
They made “defamatory” statements in press conferences and on Twitter, now X, targeting the university over Modi’s degree, the complainant stated.
The AAP leaders made sarcastic and defamatory statements intentionally to hurt the prestige of GU which has established its name among the public, as per the complainant.
Some of the comments quoted by the complainant and attributed to Kejriwal are: “If there is a degree and it is genuine, then why is it not being given?”; “They are not giving degree because it might be fake”; and “If the Prime Minister studied at Delhi University and Gujarat University, then Gujarat University should celebrate that its student became the country’s PM”.
Singh said that “they (GU) are trying to prove the PM’s fake degree as genuine”, according to the complainant.
The AAP leaders’ statements would make a person believe that GU issues fake and bogus degrees, the complainant had said.