Defamation case | Delhi High Court asks Union Minister Gajendra Shekhawat to reply to former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot's plea

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma asked Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to file his reply to the petition within two weeks and listed the appeal for further hearing on March 6, 2024.

Published - January 22, 2024 05:02 pm IST - New Delhi

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. File

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Delhi High Court on January 22 issued a notice to Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on an appeal filed by former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot against his summoning in a criminal defamation complaint.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma asked Mr. Shekhawat to file his reply to the petition within two weeks and listed the appeal for further hearing on March 6. The high court also asked the trial court to adjourn the case pending with it to a date later than the one fixed in the high court.

Mr. Gehlot has challenged a sessions court order last year that dismissed his appeal against his summoning in the complaint filed by Mr. Shekhawat.

The sessions court had said the summons issued by an additional chief metropolitan magistrate did not suffer from any factual mistake, illegality or impropriety of finding.

Mr. Shekhawat has alleged in his complaint that Mr. Gehlot — through press conferences, media reports and social media posts — publicly defamed him by linking him to the alleged Sanjivani Credit Co-operative Society scam in Rajasthan.

The alleged scam involves defrauding thousands of investors of an estimated ₹900 crore with the promise of unusually high returns.

The sessions court had taken note of the submission of Mr. Shekhawat's counsel that the magisterial court was not required to enter into any detailed discussion or appreciation about the correctness or admissibility of the evidence at the time of summoning an accused as it can be adjudicated only at the end of the trial and on the basis of evidence adduced during its course.

The trial court had earlier refused to stay the proceedings in the complaint but allowed Mr. Gehlot to appear before a metropolitan magistrate through video-conferencing.

Union Jal Shakti Minister Shekhawat, the MP from Jodhpur, alleged in his complaint before the magistrate that Mr. Gehlot was making defamatory remarks against him over the purported scam and trying to tarnish his image and affect his political career.

The magisterial court had earlier said Mr. Gehlot "prima facie" made defamatory imputations against Mr. Shekhawat, knowing well about the implications and intending to harm his reputation.

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