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Delhi CM exempted from appearance

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday allowed Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's application for personal exemption but asked her to appear before it on February 18, 2013 in a defamation case filed by her against city BJP chief Vijender Gupta.

Metropolitan Magistrate Saumya Chauhan exempted the Chief Minister from appearing in person before the court, saying "the application for exemption is only allowed for today and the complainant will need to appear on the next date of hearing, which is February 18, 2013".

Seeking exemption from personal appearance for Dikshit, her counsel Gajender Kumar said, "Due to bereavement in the family in Mumbai, she could not appear before the court."

He further said, "The Chief Minister left for Mumbai on Thursday and is coming back to Delhi by Friday evening. Hence, owing to such unfortunate incident in the close family she is unable to attend this court today and her non-appearance is unintentional."

However, Gupta's counsels, Ajay Burman and Ajay Digpaul opposed Dikshit's application saying "complainant has not mentioned the name of the relative who passed away, which seems she is avoiding the court proceedings."

During the proceedings, Gupta submitted that he is being humiliated by being asked to appear on each date of hearing, whereas the Chief Minister has not appeared since recording of her evidence in the case on May 30.

He also said, "even though the court has passed strict order on last date, she fails to appear." On October 12, the court had directed Dikshit to appear before it on the next date of hearing, November 9, else the case will be dismissed.

Dikshit had filed the criminal defamation case against Gupta alleging that the BJP leader used "uncivilised" language against her before the April 15 MCD polls.

The court, meanwhile, reserved its order for November 26, on the application moved by Gupta's counsel seeking to modify the court's August 31 order which had described the lawyers as "crowd".

Seeking modification, Burman told the court that only three lawyers, including Digpaul and Abhay Verman, were representing the case and other advocates were just observing the case.

On August 31, the court during the hearing had directed everyone, except the arguing counsel for the two parties, to vacate the court room, which Gupta's counsel had taken objection to and had sought its "correction".

"After the lawyers' uproar in the court room, the case is adjourned for October 12," the court had said in its order, adding that the "crowd" should move out of the courtroom.

On that date, the court had also granted bail to Gupta in the defamation case, after he had appeared in person before it in response to the summons issued to him earlier in the case.

The summons was issued by the court against the BJP leader on Dikshit's allegation that he had used "uncivilized language" to defame her before the MCD polls.

The Chief Minister had also filed a civil suit in the Delhi High Court demanding a token damage of Rs one from Gupta for erecting hoardings across the city in which her government was accused of conniving with private discoms and indulging in corruption in fixing power tariff.

Gupta, however, had contended in the High Court that "fair" criticism is part and parcel of a healthy democracy. The Chief Minister had testified that she had sent legal notices to Gupta after the civic polls but the BJP leader did not apologise and rather stood by his remarks.

(Agencies)

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