Defamation case: Gadkari, Digvijay trade charges in Delhi court
NEW DELHI: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari and veteran
Congress leader Digvijay Singh traded charges in a Delhi court which was
hearing a defamation complaint filed by the BJP leader against the Congressman
who stood by his statement.
The proceedings began with Gadkari ruling out any
possibility of reaching any compromise with Singh, saying he would not withdraw
his complaint unless the Congress leader takes back his statement of 2012 on
his alleged business links with the then MP Ajay Sancheti.
“I have nothing to do with Sancheti. If he (Singh)
knows anything about it and gives any proof, I am ready to give all my shares
to him. Otherwise he should take his statement back. My reputation is very
high. Credibility is the biggest strength of a politician,” Gadkari told
Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha on being asked if there was any
possibility for compromise in the matter.
Sticking to his stand, Singh, who has been summoned as
an accused in the case, said, “In my life I have never withdrawn my statement.”
The criminal defamation complaint was filed by Gadkari
in 2012 against Singh, who had alleged that the former BJP chief had business
links with the then MP Ajay Sancheti.
The magistrate had earlier issued bailable warrant
against Singh for his failure to appear before it but later on cancelled it
after he turned up and gave an undertaking to remain present in the court on
It had also asked Gadkari to remain present in the
court, saying otherwise it would dismiss his complaint. Suggesting that the two
politicians settle the matter, the magistrate said in public life one should
rise above all this.
“You should rise above all this otherwise for how long
will this go on,” the magistrate said, adding that if they do not want to
compromise, the court will proceed with framing notice against the accused.
To this Singh said, the court can go ahead with its
proceedings. During the hearing, Gadkari claimed that not even a single kg of
coal has been extracted from the mine so where is the point of earning any
profit by Sancheti.
“He (Singh) is talking non-sense,” Gadkari said. To
this Singh asked, “Is (Gadkari) he defending Sancheti? I stand by my statement
made earlier.” The court fixed November 24 for hearing further arguments on the
point of framing notice.
During the hearing, senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, who
appeared for Singh, argued that no charge was made out against his client as
Gadkari had not stated in his statement recorded earlier in the court that he
was present in the press conference when such averment was made.
“Gadkari does not say that the statement was made in
his presence. No witness and reporter was produced in the court to say that
they had heard Singh making such statement or that they recorded it,” the
counsel said, adding that the media reports were inadmissible.
Senior advocate Pinky Anand, who appeared for Gadkari,
said if Singh says he has not made any statement against the BJP leader, the
client would withdraw the complaint.
Singh was earlier granted bail in the case by the
court which, after finding "prima facie" evidence against him, had
directed him to appear before it as accused for the offence punishable under
section 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the IPC.
It was also alleged in the complaint that Singh had
accused Gadkari of pocketing sum to the tune of Rs 490 crore in the coal block
allocation to Sancheti.
Gadkari, in his statement recorded in the court, had
denied having any business ties with Sancheti and had said that Singh levelled “totally
false and defamatory” allegations against him to “give the impression that I
have been responsible for allocation of the coal mines” to Sancheti.
The BJP leader, in his petition, had sought Singh’s
prosecution under sections 499 and 500 of the IPC. In his petition, Gadkari had
alleged that Singh had levelled defamatory allegations against him to lower his
dignity and to malign and tarnish his image.