The defamation case Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is fighting against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is a public and not a private issue, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday.
Sisodia made the comments while defending the Delhi government decision to pay lawyer Ram Jethmalani from the exchequer. Since then, Jethmalani has said said he will fight the case for free.
"There were allegations of corruption in DDCA (Delhi and District Cricket Association)" when Jaitley headed it, Sisodia said.
"Our government formed a committee to probe this matter and free cricket of corruption.
"The defamation case against Kejriwal was filed by those who feared they would be caught in the probe. This is a public matter, and not pertaining to Kejriwal's private property.
"It is proper that the government bears the expenses of the case," Sisodia said.
He also questioned the timing of the matter being raked up.
"This case has been going on for one-and-half years. Why is this issue being raised now?" he asked, adding it was a diversionary tactic by the BJP to draw attention away from the issue of faulty electronic voting machines (EVMs).
Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashish Khetan also defended the Delhi government's decision and said unlike "rich" Jaitley, Kejriwal was "pennyless".
He said Jaitley filed the case not against Kejriwal the individual, but against the idea he embodies and people he represents.
"Dear Narendra Modi Sir, Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP are pennyless. Your Finance Minister is a rich man. He can afford expensive advocates. We can't," Khetan said.
He also accused Jaitley of making money defending "big people involved in big scams".
Jethmalani sent Kejriwal a bill of around Rs 3.4 crore for appearing in the court in the defamation suit. The Delhi government decided to pay from public exchequer and sent the file to the Lt Governor for approval.
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