Private Case, Public Money? Arvind Kejriwal's Conflicting Stands Revealed

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Private Case, Public Money? Arvind Kejriwal's Conflicting Stands Revealed

Arvind Kejriwal had told a court that his graft allegations against Arun Jaitley were in private capacity


New Delhi:  In October last year, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told a court that he had made allegations of corruption against Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his private capacity. He was then seeking to have one of two defamation cases filed against him by Mr Jaitley dismissed.

A court order that rejected Mr Kejriwal's plea noted that he had said "the proceedings are private in character." Defending the Chief Minister was lawyer Ram Jethmalani.
 
note

Two months later, when Mr Jethmalani sent Mr Kejriwal a bill for Rs 3.8 crore - one crore as retainership and Rs 22 lakh for each appearance in court - Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia recommended that the Delhi government pay.

In a note dated December 6, 2016, and accessed by NDTV, Mr Sisodia justified retaining Mr Jethmalani, one of the country's most expensive lawyers, to defend Mr Kejriwal and said he had made statements in his official capacity, contradicting Mr Kejriwal's stand in court. The Delhi Chief Minster is copied on the note, which Mr Sisodia ends by writing, "Honourable CM may also see for approval."

"The statement was made by the CM in his official capacity," the Deputy Chief Minister said in the note. So, he said, the Delhi government was "duty-bound" to engage a lawyer to defend the Chief Minister. He directed the general administrative department or GAD to approve the appointment of Mr Jethmalani and pay the bills on "the terms and conditions quoted by him."

These were forwarded to Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who is consulting experts on how to proceed.

Mr Jaitley's party, the BJP, has slammed Mr Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party for what union minister Prakash Javadekar said amounted to "dacoity" and "looting the people," for wanting to use public money to pay Mr Kejriwal's bills.

"It is you who made the statement - then why should people pay? It is you who should pay," the minister said.

Arun Jaitley sued Mr Kejriwal and several other AAP leaders in 2015, accusing them of making unsubstantiated allegations of corruption against him related to the period when he headed the Delhi's cricket administration body, the DDCA.

AAP leaders have told NDTV that Mr Jethmalani had offered to represent Mr Kejriwal without charging a fee, but later sent the bills.

On Tuesday, the 93-year-old lawyer said he would defend Mr Kejriwal for free if he cannot afford to pay him.

"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," said Mr Jethmalani, who was expelled by the BJP a few years ago.

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