Arun Jaitley paying his legal bills, says BJP after Arvind Kejriwal 3.8 crore fee controversy (File)
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has sued Arvind Kejriwal the individual for defamation and not as Delhi Chief Minister, the BJP said today, attacking the Aam Aadmi Party chief for wanting to use public money to pay his legal bills. Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee concurs.
"It is a civil suit. Kejriwal has to pay on his own. How does the Delhi government come into the picture," said Mr Sorabjee to NDTV, adding, "Delhi's taxpayer money can't be used, Kejriwal in his individual capacity has to pay the bill."A bill of 3.8 crore has been served to Mr Kejriwal by Ram Jethmalani
, the lawyer defending him in defamation cases filed against the Delhi Chief Minister by Arun Jaitley. This morning Mr Jethmalani, 93, offered free legal service if Mr Kejriwal can't afford to pay
, after it became known that the Delhi government has sought the approval of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to pay the bill.
"The case is against Arvind Kejriwal, not against the Delhi CM...Chief Minister is his post. This is a private defamation case," said union Minister Prakash Javadekar of the BJP, accusing the Aam Aadmi Party of "dacoity" and of "trying to loot the people."
Mr Javadekar pointed out that Mr Jaitley is paying his own legal bills. "He is the Finance Minister of the country. But he is not misusing his office. This is a personal matter and he is dealing with it personally. That is the difference between an honest government and one that is just fooling the people," the minister said.
Mr Jethmalani has been engaged by Mr Kejriwal to represent him in both a criminal and a civil defamation case filed by Arun Jaitley, who has accused him and other AAP leaders of making "false and defamatory" allegations of corruption relating to the period when the Finance Minister headed Delhi's cricket body the DDCA.
AAP has argued that Mr Kejriwal made statements against Mr Jaitley after raids were conducted at the chief minister's office and that "it was an attack on the chief minister of Delhi."
Delhi's deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said today that Mr Kejriwal is "not fighting personally," and that "the government has to pay."
AAP leaders said Mr Jethmalani had offered to represent the chief minister for free initially, but sent bills months later.
"I will certainly defend him even if he can't pay, but he said 'no, I want to pay, send us the bills', so I have sent bills. If it is incumbent on me to support him and his livelihood I will support him, because he is a clean force as opposed to Arun Jaitley," Mr Jethmalani, who was expelled by the BJP four years ago, said today.