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Arvind Kejriwal Admits Mistake in Retweeting Allegedly Defamatory Video; Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Defamation Case Proceedings

Date: February 26, 2024

In a significant turn of events, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal acknowledged making an error by retweeting an allegedly defamatory video circulated by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee related to the BJP IT Cell. The admission came during a hearing before the Supreme Court, where Kejriwal challenged a Delhi High Court order that upheld the summons issued to him in a criminal defamation case.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta refrained from issuing notice on Kejriwal's plea and asked the complainant whether he wished to close the matter in light of the chief minister's apology. The bench further directed the trial court not to proceed with the defamation case involving Kejriwal until March 11.

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Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, stated, "I can say this much that I made a mistake by retweeting." The Delhi High Court had previously ruled on February 5 that reposting alleged libellous content could attract defamation law. The judgment emphasized the responsibility associated with retweeting content without proper knowledge and stated that such actions could result in penal, civil, and tort action if a disclaimer is not attached.

In response to the high court's ruling, Chief Minister Kejriwal had argued that the trial court failed to recognize that his tweet was not intended or likely to harm the complainant, Vikas Sankrityayan.

Sankrityayan had claimed that the YouTube video titled 'BJP IT Cell Part II,' circulated by Rathee residing in Germany, contained false and defamatory allegations. The complainant's response to Kejriwal's admission and the possibility of closing the case will shape the next steps in this legal saga.

The plea before the high court highlighted the trial court's alleged failure to provide reasons for issuing the summons, deeming the orders 'ex-facie' devoid of judicial application of mind. As the Supreme Court temporarily halts proceedings, the case continues to draw attention, raising questions about the legal implications of social media retweets and the responsibility of public figures in disseminating information online.

The development showcases the complexities surrounding defamation cases in the digital age and the evolving legal interpretations of social media interactions, particularly concerning public figures. The court's decision to await the complainant's response to Kejriwal's admission adds a layer of anticipation to the proceedings set to resume on March 11.

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