Chief Minister of Delhi, is now on a spree of rendering apologies, to those who had taken him to the court for criminal defamation.
If I were a Crossword Editor, I would straight away set the following clue: “Anarchist Apologist (6,8)”.
Readers who are familiar with the current, ongoing events in Delhi, the answer to the above clue would be very easy to fill the crossword boxes. But to relieve the anxiety of other readers, the answer is clear: “Arvind Kejriwal”. Yes, he is the self-confessed anarchist who, after three years of misrule as Chief Minister of Delhi, is now on a spree of rendering apologies, unqualified at that, to those who had taken him to the court for criminal defamation.
For the benefit of readers, as per Black’s Law Dictionary, defamation means the offence of injuring a person’s character, fame, or reputation by false and malicious statements.
In India, the criminal defamation law is embedded in Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code; punishment for its violation is simple imprisonment upto two years with or without a fine.
Some AAP members say “the taxman-turned-politician decided to “amicably sort” out pending cases since they were “taking a toll on the already strained resources of the party and individuals.”
Kejriwal has already apologized to four bigwigs of politicians: Nitin Gadkari, (whose name had been included by Kejriwal in his list of “India’s most corrupt politicians”), Congress leader Kapil Sibal’s advocate son, Amit, Akali Dal’s Bikram Singh Majithia, Punjab’s erstwhile Revenue Minister who had been called the “drug lord” of Punjab by the man our PM once jocularly referred to as AK 47. The latest was, coincidentally, on All Fools Day, when Kejriwal apologized to Arun Jaitley, our country’s Finance Minister, whom he had, in December 2015, accused of corruption in his capacity as President of Delhi District Cricket Association. (DDCA)
Thus, Kejriwal has claimed four wickets without bowling a ball, so to say — not having to concede even a single financial run to be scored off his scorching bodyline bowling.
But it’s shocking that, after the acceptance of Kejriwal’s written “Sorry” to Nitin Gadkari and Amit Sibal, “The Times of India” online report of March 20, 2018, said that “A Delhi court acquitted (sic) Arvind Kejriwal in two defamation cases”.
Sorry, my old lady of Bori Bunder, but how is an apology equivalent to an acquittal? If the above report of hers is telling us how our judiciary will term an apology in this case of criminal defamation cases, then something is wrong with our judicial structure itself. And we will later come to the remedy.
Meanwhile, four apologies are not the end of the day for Kejriwal. He has a “guestimated” two dozen more “wickets” to capture. Yes, it has been said that he faces some 30 criminal defamation cases lined up against him. But, somehow, he has got his magic ball: Apology — sweetly worded and craven humility is all that’s needed and total absence of self-respect. Our Kejriwal has plenty of that in his package of scoot and run.
See his latest apology letter to Arun Jaitley, our Finance Minister, whom he and his four Aam Aadmi Party colleagues had labeled as being corrupt during his long tenure in the DDCA.
Following are some excerpts from his April Fool Day letter to Jaitley.
(i) “…I have recently discovered that the information and imputation contained are unfounded and unwarranted and I was clearly misinformed into making these allegations,”
(ii) the “disparaging and malicious statements” of Ram Jethmalani were without his (Kejriwal’s) knowledge.” Interestingly, this was denied by Jethmalani himself, saying he had said in court what Kejriwal had instructed him to say.
(iii)“I offer my sincere apology to you and your family members for any harm caused to your reputation as a consequence of my allegations”
Do you believe that the above remarks of Kejriwal were honest, from the bottom of his heart, and an expression of regret and remorse?
Well, well, the answer is from an NDTV writer who, on April 2, 2018, wrote that some AAP members say “the taxman-turned-politician decided to “amicably sort” out pending cases since they were “taking a toll on the already strained resources of the party and individuals.”
An apology should not be permitted to be treated as an “acquittal” of the accused.
So, should we say that there was no remorse really, but the financial burden demanded, simply demanded, a way to saving the money being frittered away on legal proceedings of the defamation cases? That could be the truth considering that Kejriwal always prefers to run away from a situation he himself creates.
Be that as it may, our existing criminal defamation law does appear to need some changes to be seriously considered. They are:
(1) The present position is that the complainant must always be present for every hearing of his defamation case while the accused is not subject to such a condition. This is absolutely unjust and incomprehensible.
(2) Why should the accused be permitted to cross-examine the complainant on matters other than the subject connected with the defamation complaint? This free-roaming permits the cross-examination to cover several extraneous issues which unnecessarily cast the complainant in a possibly embarrassing situation. Cross-examination should necessarily be confined to the complainant.
(3) An apology should not be permitted to be treated as an “acquittal” of the accused. It must be recorded as a case of Accused’s Apology being accepted by the Complainant.
(4) The case should be closed only after the apologizing accused is necessarily demanded to pay the complainant’s legal costs incurred for fighting his case. Further, the apologizing accused must also pay financial compensation to the complaint about all the mental and physical troubles and torture faced in fighting the legal case. The amount of compensation and legal costs of the complainant must be left to the judge after discussion with the two parties — the complainant and the accused. That seems the way to end a defamation case in order to prevent the accused from making wild accusations in future.
We don’t want any more “Forget and Forgive” defamation cases. We want “Pay And Learn” cases instead. After all, there could be AK47 aplenty in our highly disturbed society.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
His freelancing career began in "The Times of India" with a sports article published when he was a month shy of 20 years of age. He was also a regular political affairs columnist first for rediff.com for five years or so and then shifted to sify.com. He also wrote extensively for niticentral.com "till it stopped publication."
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