New Delhi: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and two other AAP leaders including Deputy CM Manish Sisodia were on Tuesday directed by a court here to appear before it later in the day in connection with a criminal defamation complaint, saying there was no ground for exemption from their appearance.
Metropolitan Magistrate Mayuri Singh took strong view of absence of Kejriwal, Sisodia and Yogendra Yadav, and said they "have no respect for the law".
The three AAP leaders have, however, sought exemption from personal appearance for the day on the ground that the lawyers are on strike and the case was at a crucial stage and the presence of advocates was necessary.
The case was put up before magistrate Singh as Metropolitan Magistrate Muneesh Garg, before whom the matter was going on, was on leave on Tuesday.
The court had earlier directed Kejriwal, Sisodia and Yadav to positively appear before it today as it was scheduled to pass order in the issue of framing of charges.
During the hearing, the court said the exemption application displayed no reason for the absence of the accused.
"There is nothing to reflect why accused (Kejriwal, Sisodia and Yadav) have not appeared. Accused have no respect for law. Considering no one has appeared for accused, I am keeping the matter pending at 2 PM. Call at 2 PM," the magistrate said.
The court noted that a clerk appeared on behalf of the accused and his advocates and moved the exemption plea.
The complainant, advocate Surender Kumar Sharma, opposed the plea saying the lawyers are on strike and not the litigants and it would not be in the interest of justice if any adjournment is given in the case as the case had earlier been adjourned three times due to absence of the accused.
Sharma had alleged that in 2013 he was approached by volunteers of AAP who had asked him to contest the Delhi Assembly elections on a party ticket, saying Kejriwal was pleased with his social services.
He filled up the application form to contest the polls after being told by Sisodia and Yadav that AAP's Political Affairs Committee of the party had decided to give him the ticket. However, it was later denied to him.
On October 14, 2013, the complainant claimed, articles in leading newspapers carried "defamatory, unlawful and derogatory words used by the accused persons" which have lowered his reputation in the Bar and the society.
According to sources, the meeting of AAP leaders with Yadav was an attempt to "break the ice".
"The meeting was preliminary in nature. Prashant ji (Bhushan) had already sent a message yesterday. There was a lot of bad blood, so at least there was a meeting, which itself is a positive sign. We all had not spoken to each other since the March 4 meeting.
"But still there are issues on both the sides which need to be sorted out. However, it would be too early to comment on how things will pan out in coming days," said an AAP leader.
The top brass of the party, excluding Yadav and Bhushan, is also expected to meet Kejriwal today and discuss the issue.
Updated Date: Mar 17, 2015 16:07:08 IST