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Supreme Court stays defamation trial of Kejriwal

Supreme Court stays defamation trial of Kejriwal
"Issue notice returnable in six weeks," a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said, adding that the the proceedings in two criminal defamation cases against the Chief Minister in Delhi trial courts shall remain stayed.

The apex court stayed the prosecution of Kejriwal in two defamation complaints filed by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and Sheila Dikshit's ex-political secretary Pawan Khera.

The Aam Aadmi Party leader is facing prosecution after being summoned as an accused under sections 499 (defamation), 500 (punishment for defamation) on a complaint lodged by Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.

Gadkari had alleged that he was defamed by the AAP leader who had included his name in the party's list of "India's most corrupt". The trial is pending and the Union Minister has recently partly recorded his statement in the case.

The other defamation case whose trial was also stayed today, was lodged against Kejriwal at Karkardooma trial court here by Sheila Dikshit's ex-political secretary Pawan Khera in 2013 for his alleged remarks against the former Chief Minister during protests over power tariff hike in October 2012.

It has been alleged that Kejriwal had uttered "defamatory" words and had accused the then Dikshit government of stalling Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission's move to cut power tariff by 23 per cent in 2010.

At a brief hearing today, the court allowed the plea of senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for Kejriwal, that the trial be stayed as was done in the case of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy.

The bench also said the plea of Kejriwal be tagged along with the pending petition of Swamy as both of them were seeking quashing of the penal provisions on the offence of defamation.

Earlier, it had asked the Centre to respond to the plea of Swamy challenging validity of the two penal provisions.

Five defamation cases were filed against Swamy by the Tamil Nadu government after he had allegedly made some allegations against Jayalalithaa on social sites.

The apex court had stayed the proceedings in all the five cases in Tamil Nadu courts.

Swamy had also sought setting aside of the IPC provisions on defamation on the grounnd that they put unreasonable restrictions on people's right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

He had also submitted there was an international convention to de-criminalise defamation.



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