New Delhi: Former Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was yesterday sent to two-day judicial custody by a court after he refused to furnish a personal bail bond in a defamation case filed by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari.
Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha fixed tomorrow as the next date of hearing. Manocha had asked him to furnish a bail bond of Rs10,000 but the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader refused. Kejriwal was summoned by the court for describing former Bharatiya Janata Party president as a “corrupt” person.
Earlier, Kejriwal told the court he would not furnish a bail bond as the case was a political one. Instead, he promised to give an undertaking to appear before the court at every hearing. ”I am fighting against corruption. I will not seek bail as I have not done anything wrong,” he said.
His counsel told the court that in earlier defamation cases against him, Kejriwal was granted bail on the undertaking that he would appear before the court at every hearing.
The counsel added that Kejriwal would not flee from justice. “I completely agree but what is the problem with furnishing a bail bond?” Asked the judge.
The judge said furnishing a bond was a process of law and told Kejriwal that he was seeking different treatment. “You are representing the Aam Aadmi Party. I request you to behave as aam aadmi (common man),” she said.
“This not a case where the accused, due to financial inability, is unable to furnish bail bond. The accused is just adamant...”
Gadkari’s lawyer opposed Kejriwal’s plea.
Gadkari’s complaint said that January 31, when he was Delhi’s chief minister, Kejriwal released a list of “India’s most corrupt” people and it included his name.
Gadkari told the court that “false, baseless, scandalous, defamatory statements” by Kejriwal against him had lowered his dignity.
Kejriwal, 45, was first sent to a lock-up in the court complex before being taken in a police van to the Tihar Central Jail, where a large number of AAP workers promptly staged a noisy protest.
The sudden development came just after Kejriwal offered his first public apology for abruptly resigning as Delhi’s chief minister on February 14 and sought fresh elections in the capital.
Kejriwal made the statement a day after he told Lt Governor Najeeb Jung not to dissolve the 70-member house so that he could explore the possibility of again forming a minority government.
But a pensive Kejriwal told the media: “The chances of forming a government are almost negligible. In such a situation, holding discussions does not make sense. We have decided that we will prepare for elections (in Delhi).”
Referring to his resignation after a 49-day stint following his failure to get the Jan Lokpal bill passed, Kejriwal said: “We made a mistake, and I apologise for it.”
But the AAP government—later short of one party member—was shortlived. Kejriwal resigned after the Congress, BJP and others refused to let the Jan Lokpal bill pass in the house.
Since then, Delhi has been under President’s Rule but the assembly was not dissolved. The AAP had earlier petitioned the judiciary to demand fresh elections in Delhi.
The situation changed after the Bharatiya Janata Party won all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi this month. After being pushed to a distant third in the Lok Sabha battle, a section of Congress legislators seemed willing to again back an AAP government.
Initially, the AAP leaders refused the offer. But there was pressure from a section of its own legislators to explore the possibility of government formation.
Kejriwal said yesterday people in Delhi wanted him to again form a government. “Since the Lok Sabha election ended, I have been going around Delhi and people have said that we made a mistake (by resigning) and that we should not repeat the mistake. They (public) asked us to form a government... Otherwise, they said, they will not forgive us,” he added.
The Congress said it won’t prop up an AAP government “at any cost”. BJP leader Harsh Vardhan, a legislator now elected to the Lok Sabha, said his party wanted fresh polls. IANS