New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) A Delhi court on Saturday witnessed heated exchanges between lawyers of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and those of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during the hearing of a defamation case filed by the former, with lawyers for the Aam Aadmi Party leader claiming they had received "death threats" in the court room.
"Death threats were given to AAP leaders appearing in the Jaitley defamation case, including to myself, by a lawyer belonging to the other side inside the court," AAP leader Raghav Chadha, also an accused in the case, told IANS.
"A lawyer, identified as Vivek Sharma, threatened us, saying that he will 'see us outside the court' premises during the court hearing. We requested the court to take action against the man for his misconduct," Chadha said.
Chadha said he would take legal actions against the man.
Both sides exchanged heated words in the Patiala House Court over the non-appearance of Jaitley in the defamation case filed against Kejriwal and AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Chadha and Deepak Bajpai. Jaitley has alleged that the AAP leaders made "false and defamatory" statements in a case involving the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), thereby harming his reputation.
The verbal exchanges disrupted the court proceedings for a while.
The defence counsel opposed Jaitley's exemption from personal appearance in court, contending that without that his identification could not be established in the hearing.
The defence counsels sought either acquittal of the AAP leaders or adjournment of the case on the ground of non-appearance of Jaitley, which was vehemently opposed by the advocates representing the Minister.
Kejriwal was present in the court, along with AAP leaders Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Chadha. Bajpai had sought exemption on the grounds of some prior commitment, which the court allowed. The court granted exemption to Jaitley.
Amid the heated verbal duel between lawyers of both sides inside the jam-packed court room, suddenly an advocate raising his voice loudly threatened to "See outside" lawyers from the AAP side.
Kejriwal and AAP counsels complained to the court of "serious security threat" to their life and requested the judge to arrest the lawyer who threatened them in the open court.
"This is a security threat... It is danger to our life," defence counsel Rahul Mehra said.
This led the proceedings to be disrupted for a while.
The hearing was resumed after the court directed those not associated with the case to leave the court room. The court also directed the lawyer accused of threatening the AAP side to submit his identity card.
Later, Jaitley's counsel and senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, along with defence counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan intervened and requested the counsels of both sides to maintain calm.
During the hearing, Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sumit Dass framed a defamation notice against Kejriwal and others. But the AAP leaders pleaded not guilty and claimed a trial.
The trial in the case will commence on May 20.