Amid a raging controversy over Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s attempts to get the Rs 3.86 crore that he owes to his lawyer Ram Jethmalani paid from public funds, the high-profile lawyer today said that he would appear for the Aam Aadmi Party chief for free as he considered it to be his duty towards the nation.
“I charge only the rich but for poor I work for free. All this is instigated by Mr. Jailtley who's afraid of my cross-examination,” Jethmalani told news agency ANI.
I charge only the rich but for poor I work for free. All this is instigated by Mr.Jailtley who's afraid of my cross-examination-Jethmalani pic.twitter.com/GnKjDq0pv4— ANI (@ANI_news) April 4, 2017
Jethamalani said that the issue of the payment of his fee was a matter between the Delhi government and the people. However, he offered to appear for Kejriwal for free if the Delhi government expressed its inability to foot the bill.
“Even now, if (Delhi) government doesn't pay or he can't pay, (I) will appear for free, Will treat him (Kejriwal) as one of my poor clients,” Jethmalani added.
Even now if govt (Delhi) doesn't pay or he can't pay will appear for free,will treat him(Kejriwal) as one of my poor clients: Ram Jethmalani pic.twitter.com/YwT9OdwiOI— ANI (@ANI_news) April 4, 2017
Jethmalani, one of the most expensive lawyers in the country, has demanded Rs 1 crore as retainer and Rs 22 lakh per court hearing. He has appeared before the court on behalf of Kejriwal 13 times, totalling the legal bill to Rs 3.86 crore.
A row erupted when the AAP government sought Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's permission to pay Kejriwal's legal bills from the government accounts and wrote to him in this regard. The LG has sought legal opinion in the matter as the court case against Kejriwal is believed to be personal in nature.
India TV has accessed the documents that reveal that Kejriwal has sought to pay his lawyers from public money.
Earlier on December 31, 2016, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had asked the administrative department to pay the lawyer from Delhi government’s accounts. Sisodia had also directed the department not to send the file to LG and pay Jethmalani directly.
Jaitley has filed civil and criminal defamation suits against Kejriwal after the Chief Minister accused the Finance Minister of indulging in massive corruption during his tenure as the Delhi and District Cricket Administration (DDCA) chief between 1999-2013.
Besides Kejriwal, AAP leaders Ashutosh, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chaddha and Deepak Bajpai are also accused in the case.
Jaitley had filed the case in December 2015 and had sought Rs 10 crores from Kejriwal in damages, along with penal action for maligning his public image.