New Delhi: Acting on the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) decision to reduce its litigatory load, the party’s national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday sent a written apology to Union cabinet minister Nitin Gadkari and former Congress minister and senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, both of whom had sued him for criminal defamation.
The apology comes days after Kejriwal apologized to senior leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia for alleging that he was involved in the drug trade. The move led to differences between the Punjab unit and the central leadership of AAP.
Party leaders claim that there is a long list of defamation cases against the chief minister which are draining the party financially.
Defending the move, senior AAP leader and Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the party is focused on working for the people and does not want to get tangled in legal cases. “If someone is hurt by our remarks, we will apologize. We will not make it a fight of ego. We are here to work for people. We have not spared time for court, we have spared time for us so that we can fight for people," he told reporters outside the Delhi assembly.
“Both of us are in public life belonging to different political parties. I made certain statements without regard for their verifiability, which seem to have hurt you and therefore you have filed a defamation case against me. I have nothing personal against you. I regret the same," Kejriwal said in his letter dated 16 March to Gadkari.
Kejriwal and Gadkari submitted a joint application before the court to withdraw the defamation case.
Gadkari had filed the case against Kejriwal for allegedly including his name in AAP’s list of “India’s most corrupt".
In a separate letter to advocate Amit Sibal, son of former Union minister Kapil Sibal, Kejriwal and Sisodia said the allegations made against Amit and Kapil Sibal were “unfounded".
“I hereby withdraw all my statements and allegations made against you and your father and apologize for the same. The damage caused to your esteem, the hurt caused to your family, friends and well-wishers and the loss caused to you is regretted," Kejriwal said in his letter.
Sibal had filed a case in response to comments made by Kejriwal and Sisodia during a press conference in 2013, wherein they had alleged a conflict of interest during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Accepting the apology, Kapil Sibal told reporters, “They have accepted that the allegations they had put on me and my son a few years ago are baseless...everything is forgotten now, we will move ahead."
Besides these cases, criminal defamation cases filed by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament (MP) Ramesh Bidhuri and Congress MP Avtar Singh are pending against Kejriwal.
PTI contributed to this story.