New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wants the taxpayer to foot his legal bills of Rs. 3.8 crore for defamation cases filed against him by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Mr Kejriwal engaged a battery of lawyers to represent him, including Ram Jethmalani, one of the most expensive lawyers in the country.
Mr Kejriwal’s deputy, Manish Sisodia, has signed off on the bills and sent them for clearance to Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who has sought the opinion of experts on how to proceed.
Mr Jethmalani, who is defending Mr Kejriwal in both a criminal and a civil defamation case filed by Mr Jaitley, has reportedly sent bills for Rs. 1 crore in retainership and Rs. 22 lakh for each appearance in court to the Delhi Chief Minister.
Arun Jaitley has sued Mr Kejriwal and other AAP leaders for allegedly making “false and defamatory” statements accusing him of financial irregularities when he was president of the Delhi and District Cricket Association or DDCA. The finance minister, a famous lawyer too, has sought Rs. 10 crore in damages in the cases filed in 2015.
Senior AAP leaders, asking not to be named, confirmed that Mr Sisodia has sent the Rs. 3.8 crore bills to the Delhi LG.
“A raid happened at the Chief Minister’s office and his statements (against Mr Jaitley) followed. It was an attack on the CM of Delhi,” said one AAP leader, explaining why Mr Kejriwal expects the Delhi Government to pay the bills.
AAP leaders also claimed that Ram Jethmalani had initially offered to represent Mr Kejriwal pro bono or free of cost against Mr Jaitley, but about nine months after taking the case, he started sending the chief minister bills.
Last week, the Lieutenant Governor asked the Aam Aadmi Party to pay Rs. 97 crore to the Delhi government for ads that were allegedly in violation of Supreme Court guidelines and promoted Mr Kejriwal and his party.