Questions/expressions of Ram Jethmalani against Arun Jaitely declared indecent and scandalous by Delhi High Court
ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 2007 (2017) (07) HC
The present petition was filed by Shri Arun Jaitely (Plaintiff) seeking expeditious recording of the evidence in a time bound manner in the ongoing case of defamation against Shri Arvind Kejriwal (Defendant No. 1). Shri Arun Jaitely had also sough a direction to the effect that the recording of evidence is conducted in an orderly, fair, dignified and bona fide manner.
The grievance of the plaintiff was that during the cross-examination conducted on behalf of defendant, his advocate has been asked numerous irrelevant and ex facie scandalous questions to the plaintiff. It was stated that that certain questions had been ex facie abusive, defamatory with a clear design to insult and/or annoy the plaintiff.
It was also stated that during the cross-examination conducted on 17th May, 2017, Shri Ram Jethmalani, counsel for defendant no.1 had used the abusive, offensive and per se defamatory words like “crook” and “guilty of crimes and crookery” against the plaintiff.
In support of the charges, it was stated that out of 100 questions put to the plaintiff, 24 questions had been disallowed by the Joint Registrar till date. That on 17th May, 2017, of the seven questions asked by the counsel for the defendant no. 1, the Joint Registrar had disallowed the five questions. It was stated that the counsel representing defendant no.1 had attempted to browbeat, intimidate and scandalize the plaintiff. It was alleged that this proves that the attitude and intention of the defendants is to delay the conclusion of the evidence.
The Hon’ble High Court opined that that cross-examination is to be conducted in accordance with law and the dignity of the Court has to be maintained. No person who has invoked the jurisdiction of this Court can be subjected to offensive, scandalous and/or abusive language in the garb of cross-examination.
The Hon’ble High Court further opined that questions in cross-examination can be put only in the course of administration of law. Indecent, scandalous and abusive questions are prohibited even under the Evidence Act, 1872. The liberty of free expression cannot be confused with licence to make unfounded, unwarranted and irresponsible aspersions.
Considering that the defendant no.1 had filed a reply with an affidavit stating that he had not instructed his senior counsel to use the words like “crook” and “guilty of crimes and crookery” against the plaintiff, the Hon’ble High Court (with consent of Mr. Anoop George Chaudhari, newly engaged senior counsel for defendant no.1) declared that the said questions/expressions “crook” and “guilty of crimes and crookery” against the plaintiff were indecent and scandalous in accordance with Section 151 of Evidence Act, 1872.
The Hon’ble High Court clarified that it was not enquiring as to whether the previous senior counsel for the defendant no.1 had called the plaintiff “crook” and “guilty of crimes and crookery” on his own or on instruction of the defendant no.1 as the plaintiff had already instituted a second suit in this respect.
The newly engaged senior counsel for the defendant no.1 assured the Hon’ble Court, on instructions of his client, that only relevant questions would be put to the plaintiff in future during the cross-examination and no indecent or scandalous questions shall be put to the plaintiff and the plaintiff shall not be subjected to abuse and/or humiliation in the present proceeding.
At the request of the newly engaged senior counsel for Shri Arvind Kejriwal, the date for cross-examination before the Joint Registrar was deferred to 28th and 29th August, 2017 at 2.00 PM and the Joint Registrar was also directed to allow only the advocates appearing in the present case to be present in the Court Room.