The Supreme Court has rejected the plea by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging the high court’s ruling against staying the criminal defamation proceedings initiated by Gujarat University in relation to his comments regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s educational credentials.
The legal conflict emerged after Gujarat University Registrar Piyush Patel filed a defamation case against Kejriwal and AAP leader Sanjay Singh. This came subsequent to the Gujarat High Court nullifying an order by the Chief Information Commissioner that had directed the university to provide information about Modi’s degrees to them under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
In a recent development, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti of the Supreme Court stated that they would not issue a notice on Kejriwal’s plea. The matter is already under consideration by the Gujarat High Court, with a scheduled hearing on August 29. The Supreme Court bench advised both Gujarat University and Kejriwal to present their concerns before the high court.
Abhishek Singhvi, senior advocate representing Kejriwal, argued that the high court had wrongly declined to grant interim relief to halt the defamation proceedings against the Delhi Chief Minister. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the University, alleged suppression of facts by Kejriwal.
Earlier, on August 11, the Gujarat High Court denied an interim stay on the criminal defamation proceedings against Kejriwal and Singh, prompting a metropolitan court to summon them in the case. The hearing for this case is scheduled for August 31. Subsequently, the AAP leaders filed a revision application in the sessions court, challenging the metropolitan court’s summons. The sessions court, however, rejected their plea for an interim stay on trial, leading them to approach the Gujarat High Court. The revision application in the Sessions Court is now set for a hearing on September 16.
Notably, only Kejriwal moved the Supreme Court to challenge the high court’s decision from August 11. The complaint filed by Patel asserts that the leaders made defamatory statements through press conferences and Twitter posts, targeting the university over Modi’s degree.
In response, Patel argued that their remarks were not only defamatory but also undermined the university’s reputation, which holds a significant place among the public. The statements were deemed sarcastic and intentionally aimed at tarnishing the prestige of the institution, he stated in the complaint.
This legal entanglement had its origins in the Central Information Commission’s 2016 directive to Gujarat University to disclose information about PM Modi’s degree to Kejriwal. However, the Gujarat High Court later invalidated the CIC’s order, characterizing Kejriwal’s RTI plea as politically driven rather than rooted in genuine public interest considerations.
As the legal battles continue, the Supreme Court’s decision adds another layer to the ongoing debate around defamation and political discourse.
Sources By Agencies