New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was today summoned by a Delhi court to face trial in a criminal defamation case lodged against him by BJP President Nitin Gadkari.
"Accused Digvijaya Singh has been summoned for the offence under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code to face trial for criminal defamation. Let he be summoned for December 21," Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar said.
The court on October 16 had reserved its order on the BJP president's complaint after recording the statements of two witnesses.
The court had recorded the statement of Mr Gadkari and BJP National Secretary Bhupinder Yadav, also a Rajya Sabha MP. Mr Gadkari has filed the criminal defamation case against Mr Singh, who had accused him of having business links with his party MP Ajay Sancheti who allegedly pocketed a huge sum in the coal block allocation.
Mr Gadkari, in his statement recorded in the court, had denied having any business ties with Mr Sancheti and had said Mr Singh had levelled "totally false and defamatory" allegations against him to "give the impression that I have been responsible for allocation of coal mines" to Mr Sancheti.
In his petition, filed through advocate Ajay Digpaul, Mr Gadkari has sought Singh's prosecution under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the IPC. In his complaint, Mr Gadkari has said the Congress-led UPA government is facing a lot of heat on account of its irregularities as brought out by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in coal blocks allocation and accused Mr Singh of making baseless allegations against him to divert attention from the issue.
Mr Gadkari's counsel had earlier denied that his client has any "direct or indirect" business relations with Mr Sancheti and contended that Singh's statement had the "clear intention to malign the reputation of the complainant."
Mr Yadav, who had also recorded his statement in the court, had said that on September 3, he read news articles in various newspapers about the alleged business relations between Mr Gadkari and Mr Sancheti and it was "totally false" that Mr Gadkari had earned Rs 490 crore from coal allocation through Mr Sancheti.
Mr Yadav had also said the news was "defamatory" and it had lowered Mr Gadkari's image in the eyes of the public.
The court had also recorded the statement of an authorised representative of a national English daily in which the alleged defamatory statement of Mr Singh was published.