New Delhi: Noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani today said he will defend Arvind Kejriwal in the defamation case slapped on him by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley without taking any fee if the Delhi Chief Minister cannot afford to pay him.
Jethmalani also hit out at Jaitley alleging that the row over the Delhi government's move to clear his bills for fighting the case has been "instigated" by the Union Finance Minister.
On its part, the AAP alleged that Jaitley was paid large retainership fee for defending a private firm when it was mired in the 2G scam.
The party also sought to defend the government's move to pay Jethmalani from the public exchequer, saying the "penniless" AAP and Kejriwal cannot "afford" expensive lawyers.
Jethmalani said it is the government's duty to defend the chief minister.
"I will certainly defend him even if he can't pay, but he said 'no, I want to pay, send us the bills', so I have sent the bills. Even if the government does not support him, I will.
"If necessary, I will support him for his livelihood because he is a clean force compared to Arun Jaitley," said Jethmalani.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had directed the General Administration Department to clear the bills of Jethmalani. It is learnt that Lt Governor Anil Baijal has sought Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar's advice in doing so.
The bills totalled around Rs 3.4 crore.
"If he is unable to pay I will do it for free. I render free services to 90 per cent of my clients," Jethmalani said.
Sisodia said this is not a personal legal battle of Kejriwal and the case is a follow-up of a probe ordered by the Delhi government to clean up corruption in cricket administration in the city.
"The government will fight the case," he told reporters.
In a series of tweets, AAP leader Ashish Khetan, a former journalist, said Jaitley is a "rich man" so he can afford expensive lawyers.
"Dear @narendramodi Sir, @ArvindKejriwal & @AamAadmiParty are pennyless. Your FM is a rich man, he can afford expensive advocates. We can't.
"@narendramodi ji, your FM has made his money defending big ppl involved in big scams. @ArvindKejriwal all his life has defended the poor (sic)," he tweeted.
Khaitan further said, "What is most important that large retainership fee was paid to @arunjaitley at a time when Anil Ambani & his companies were mired in 2G scam.