From “All’s Well that Ends Well” by Shakespeare, Act III, Scene VI.
Second Lord to Bertram: Believe it, my lord, in mine own direct knowledge, without any malice, but to speak of him as my kinsman, he’s a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no one good quality worthy your lordship’s entertainment.
Well, I could visualise Ram Jethmalani repeating the line in an exasperated tone to the Lordships of Delhi High Court. About whom, is anybody’s guess. Like they say, catching snakes need an expertise that comes out of life time’s practice. Also it is said that normally snake catchers die out of snake bites.
Arvind Kejriwal has a habit of calling names – of all and sundry. He has notoriously called the Prime Minister, a Psychopath. Despite the uproar, it appears he took pride on his rants. Encouraged by no reaction from the Prime Minister, there were many others who started using abusive language in public forums.
May be to show his place to the Chief Movie-Reviewer of Delhi or to provide entertainment to the Judges of Delhi High Court, who were otherwise bored by the regular legal jargon, Arun Jaitley called the bluff. When Arvind Kejriwal accused him of corruption, the lawyer-cum-politician Arun Jaitley filed a defamation case against the sitting CM. After failing to get the case dismissed, Kejriwal had to face trial.
Notorious for his use-and-throw policy of many a friends who supported him, Arvind Kejriwal engaged one of the top most lawyers in the country, the Bhishmacharya of legal fraternity – Ram Jethmalani. Incidentally, Ram Jethmalani too had fell out of the party that made him Union minister twice. It is in the public domain how Ram Jethmalani thinks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after he said famously ‘I am doing penance for promoting Modi’, when he asked Bihar electorate to vote against BJP.
Following the ‘enemy’s enemy is one’s friend’ philosophy, Arvind Kejriwal and Ram Jethmalani aligned together in the fight against Arun Jaitley, who represents Modi as he is a minister in the present government.
However, the alliance had encountered some potholes on the road en-route the legal war. First, it was about the legal fees of Mr Jethmalani. When Arvind Kejriwal wanted his government to pay the bill, there was an uproar questioning the ‘legitimacy’ in the government footing the bill for a private case of the chief minister. Exhibiting his magnanimous attitude, Jethmalani waived the bill and declared he would represent Kejriwal for a nominal fee.
Then, the senior counsel argued the case for Kejriwal. During the cross-examination, he called ‘Arun Jaitley’ a crook, to which even the court objected. Maybe polite and respectable language is called ‘parliamentarian’ for a reason, as the fight in the courts is no barred one, though we normally see how unparliamentarian our parliamentarians are. On the rebuke from the Judge, Ram Jethmalani informed the court that he is calling Jaitley a ‘crook’ and has consent of his client, Arvind Kejriwal, complicating the case further. Immediately on hearing this submission, Arun Jaitley informed the court that he would file a new defamation case for another Ten Crore Rupees. And, the court wanted Arvind Kejriwal to file an affidavit on the new twist.
Filing his affidavit in the court, however Arvind Kejriwal had reneged on the submission of his lawyer. His affidavit says “With due respect, it is submitted that neither Kejriwal nor the counsel briefing the senior counsel Jethmalani gave instructions to the senior counsel to use the objectionable words on May 17, 2017”.
The man who has seen many twists and turns in his long legal career, Ram Jethmalani did not expect this unexpected U-turn from his client. Of course, at his advanced age, Mr Jethmalani has nothing to lose either in the form of career or even on the financial front, but the same cannot be said of his client. Kejriwal, a chief minister of first term and a national leader in the making has already tarnished his image for making unnecessary comments and this has already resulted in reducing his stature. After the washout in the Municipal elections, he cannot be again seen trotting the same abusive path at the cost of electoral loss. So, the U-turn.
Furious at the double cross, Ram Jethmalani quit as the legal counsel of Arvind Kejriwal and also asked him to pay his legal fees that may be ~₹2CR.
It seems the Delhi government had already cleared ₹3.5CR as his fees which includes One Crore as retainer and ₹22 lacs for each appearance in the court room.
Apart from this Jethmalani wrote a letter to CM, accusing him of using more offensive language against Jaitley while discussing the case details in private. Maybe the senior counsel referred the derogatory language used by Kejriwal during the debriefing. Informing that letters were transacted between him and the CM, Jethmalani asked reporters to request Kejriwal to make them public. Well, how the court would treat the latest developments is yet to be seen. But, in the entire episode, the political and legal naivety of Arvind Kejriwal’s exposed threadbare.
It is not a point whether really Arun Jaitley win the case and make the CM pay for the language he used, but the point is about bringing back propriety into public discussions and discourses. There shall be some decency even in the enmity, especially when all involved parties claim to be representing Indian public.