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HC objects to manner of Jaitley's cross-examination

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today objected to the counsel for Arvind Kejriwal asking "suggestive questions" to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in a defamation case he has filed against the Delhi chief minister, saying "the object appeared only to cross-examine rather than arriving at a result".
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw told the lawyers of the Delhi chief minister that "excessive cross-examination was harmful" as it "never helps the cross-examiner", and asked them not to engage in any "fishing or roving exercise".
The court asked senior advocate Anoop George Chaudhari, appearing for Kejriwal, to "have a re-look" at the questions framed for Jaitley's cross-examination and formulate them "properly" so the proceedings can go on without interruptions.
It also asked Kejriwal's lawyers to try and ensure that they conclude the cross-examination on the next date of hearing on February 20.
Jaitley was being cross-examined in the Rs 10 crore defamation suit filed by him against Kejriwal and five other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders-- Raghav Chadha, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and Deepak Bajpai. They have alleged financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) when Jaitley was its president.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal moved an application seeking to summon an August 2010 report by a committee headed by former India cricketer Chetan Chauhan, claiming that Jaitley has "chosen to evade questions with regard to findings of the report". Chauhan was one of the members of a DDCA panel.
The application is likely to be listed for hearing this week.
During the days' proceedings, the court told the senior lawyer appearing for Kejriwal that the manner of cross- examination, putting forth suggestive questions to the witness (Jaitley), was "unknown to civil law", and was more common to criminal law.
"What do you gain by suggestions," it asked and requested him to refrain from it.
When the senior lawyer posed queries based on questions put to Jaitley during earlier cross-examinations, the court said that "excessive cross-examination is harmful".
"It never helps the cross-examiner," Justice Endlaw said and added "I feel the object is to cross-examine rather than arrive at a result."
The judge, went on to say "please have a re-look at your cross-examination (questions)", and discouraged asking Jaitley questions from contents of various documents, saying it was not permitted under the law.
Chaudhari, briefed by advocate Anupam Srivastav, told the court that queries posed during earlier cross-examinations were asked as Jaitley had denied being part of the committee which oversaw the re-construction of the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium where the alleged bungling took place.
Jaitley said the contract for the stadium was given to the Engineering Projects India Ltd (EPIL) as its bid was the lowest and because it was a public sector undertaking.
He also added that while the contract was awarded by the executive committee, a separate construction committee was set up to liaison with EPIL.
He said that DDCA had decided to build the stadium with its own resources.
The high court had on February 5 criticised Kejriwal over the relevance of questions put to Jaitley and said the chief minister was engaging in a "roving and fishing enquiry".
Kejriwal is facing another Rs 10 crore defamation suit by Jaitley after his former lawyer, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, used "scandalous words" while cross-examining the BJP leader.
The AAP convenor had, however, told the court that he did not instruct Jethmalani to use such words against the minister, even though the senior advocate, who announced his retirement from the profession, insisted the chief minister asked him to use abusive language.
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