New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who has sued Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for defamation, was cross-examined today by fellow lawyer Ram Jethmalani at a court in Delhi. In course of a back-and-forth that went on for hours, Mr Jaitley was asked to explain how he called the damage to his reputation “irreparable and unquantifiable” and whether it had anything to do with his “personal feelings of greatness”. Mr Jethmalani, a former party colleague, was unsparing as he demanded that Mr Jaitley clarify – why the defamation suit.
“There is no objective rational reason, besides the value that you put on yourself?” said Mr Jethmalani in the Delhi High Court, to which Mr Jaitley replied, “The value I placed, towards loss of my reputation was only a small part of the enormous damage done.”
Mr Jethmalani, who is representing AAP, said the senior minister had not suffered any monetary damage, “which is why you call it unquantifiable”. What, he questioned, compelled Mr Jaitley to decide that the damage is irreparable?
Mr Jaitley responded, “The loss of my reputation has been partly quantified in terms of money. Loss of reputation causes mental distress to the person defamed, which it did in my case.”
He argued, “Considering my stature, background and reputation, the loss caused to me and my reputation was so enormous that it was considered unquantifiable.”
Mr Jethmalani then retorted, “in other words it was your personal feeling about your greatness, that it can’t be estimated in terms of fiscal measure.”
Mr Jaitley replied that his views were based on what “my friends, well-wishers and others, both privately and in the media, who had expressed an opinion on the subject.”
The defamation case involves AAP’s allegation that Mr Jaitley and his family were responsible for financial mismanagement at the time he headed the Delhi cricket body DDCA. Mr Jaitley had filed a civil defamation case demanding 10 crores in damages. In previous hearings, Delhi chief minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had asked for bank details and tax returns of Mr Jaitley and his family members.
Mr Jethmalani questioned whether Mr Jaitley had made enough effort to “repair” the damage before calling it “irreparable” and moving court.
“These allegations continue to be raised both in the media and before parliament. They were also raised in Delhi assembly. Those who raised it did not factor in my denial. It was therefore obvious that irreparable damage has been done,” the Finance Minister responded.