Defamation case: Delhi court allows Kejriwal’s exemption for a day, asks him to appear on Feb 29

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New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) A Delhi court on Wednesday granted one-day exemption from appearance to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a criminal defamation case, which revolves around his re-tweet of an allegedly defamatory video posted by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee in 2018.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Tanya Bamniyal of Rouse Avenue Court directed him to appear before it on February 29 after allowing Kejriwal’s exemption plea, which stated that he is busy with a budget session.

The Delhi High Court on Monday rejected Kejriwal’s plea to quash the summons in the case.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, who presided over the case, had upheld the summoning order by the Magistrate, dismissing Kejriwal’s revision plea.

The judge had said that re-tweeting defamatory content falls under the offence of defamation as per Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Section 499 of the IPC says that whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible representations, makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or knowing or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm, the reputation of such person, is said, except in the cases hereinafter excepted, to defame that person.

Kejriwal had filed the petition in 2019, and a Coordinated Bench had previously stayed trial court proceedings in December 2019.

Justice Sharma had said that online interactions, specifically re-tweeting on Twitter (now X), can incur liability for defamation.

If Kejriwal wishes to justify his re-tweet, the court suggested doing so during the trial.

In a judgement on criminal liability for re-tweeting, Justice Sharma had stressed the amplified impact of statements in the cyber domain.

The court had noted the broader ramifications when public figures, especially political figures, share content on social media.

The judgment said that the legal system should adapt to the context of virtual platforms and urged a sense of responsibility in re-tweeting content without proper knowledge.

The court had stated that re-tweeting by political figures, such as a Chief Minister, with a significant social media presence, can be perceived as a public endorsement.

The Magistrate had earlier summoned Kejriwal, deeming the re-tweet prima facie defamatory.

The case was filed by Vikas Pandey (Sankrityayan), the founder of the social media page ‘I Support Narendra Modi’, who claimed that Kejriwal’s re-tweet of the video tarnished his reputation.

Vikas Pandey, whose X handle reads MODIfiedVikas, had posted: “HC rules against @ArvindKejriwal (Arvind Kejriwal) in the defamation case by me. He had shared a video against me made by Dhruv Rathee. I thank my lawyers @raghav355 (Raghav Awasthi) & @ThisIsTheMukesh (Mukesh Sharma) who took this case up pro bono and have been fighting against the few highest paid lawyers in India in the case.”



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