Settlement Talks: SC Extends Stay on Defamation Proceedings against Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal

The Supreme Court on Monday extended the stay on the defamation proceedings against Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to allow the parties more time to explore the possibility of a settlement.

The Chief Minister of Delhi has challenged a Delhi High Court order that upheld the summons issued to him in a criminal defamation case for retweeting an allegedly defamatory video circulated by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee in May 2018.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta stated that the interim stay already granted would remain in effect until further orders.

No Contact Yet

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, mentioned that following the previous hearing on March 11, the parties failed to establish contact to discuss a settlement.

Counsel for the complainant, Vikas Sankrityayan, stated that they had not been contacted after the last hearing. The bench instructed Kejriwal’s side to initiate contact with the complainant, and scheduled the next hearing for the week commencing August 12.

‘Offer an Apology’

On March 11, the Supreme Court had asked Kejriwal if he intended to offer an apology to the complainant.

Kejriwal had admitted on February 26 to the Supreme Court that he had made an error by retweeting an allegedly defamatory video circulated by YouTuber Rathee concerning the BJP IT Cell.

The counsel representing Sankrityayan suggested to the Supreme Court that Kejriwal could issue an apology on social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram for his actions.

Previous Hearings

On February 26, the Supreme Court, without issuing notice on Kejriwal’s plea challenging the high court order, had asked the complainant if he wished to close the matter in light of the petitioner acknowledging his mistake.

The Apex Court had directed the trial court not to proceed with the defamation case involving Kejriwal until further orders.

In its February 5 ruling, the high court stated that reposting libelous content would invoke provisions of the defamation law.

It emphasized the need for responsibility when retweeting content of which one lacks knowledge, stating that failure to do so could result in penal, civil, and tort actions if a disclaimer is not attached.

The high court, while refusing to quash the trial court’s 2019 order summoning Kejriwal, remarked that when a public figure tweets a defamatory post, the repercussions extend beyond a mere whisper.

It warned that allowing the misuse of retweets or reposts, which are still considered a legal grey area, would incentivize individuals with malicious intent to misuse it, claiming they merely retweeted content.

Intended No Harm

The chief minister argued in the high court that his tweet was not intended to harm the complainant.

Sankrityayan asserted that the YouTube video titled ‘BJP IT Cell Part II’ was circulated by Rathee, who resides in Germany, and contained numerous false and defamatory allegations.

Read More: Supreme CourtDelhi High CourtStates High CourtOther CourtsInternational

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte