SC stays AAP government’s circular threatening defamation

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Thursday accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of double standards by seeking stay of criminal defamation proceedings against him but issuing a circular permitting action against media groups for defamatory reporting.

“Don’t you feel that there is dichotomy between you challenging section 499 and section 500 of the Indian Penal Code relating to defamation and the circular issued by you?” asked the apex court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant.

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The observations came while hearing an application by Amit Sibal, seeking vacation of the stay of the defamation proceedings against Kejriwal initiated by him.

Kejriwal and other AAP leaders had alleged conflict of interest in the responsibilities of his father, Kapil Sibal, as the then telecom minister with Amit Sibal appearing for telecom operators in court.

Not accepting the plea for the stay, Justice Dipak Misra said: “We are not vacating the stay but we are staying the circular.”

The Kejriwal government had on May 6 issued a circular which says that if any person was aggrieved by any publication of a news item, that person can refer it to the Delhi Home Department which in consultation with the Law Department can grant sanction for prosecution, leading to a defamation case.

The defamation suit is rooted in a May 15, 2013 press conference in which Kejriwal had alleged the conflict of interest saying that Amit Sibal had appeared in the Supreme Court for Vodafone while his father Kapil Sibal was the communications minister.