New Delhi - The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijendra Gupta to settle out of court their defamation case in an amicable and responsible manner within two weeks.
Justice Kailash Gambhir asked the lawyers appearing for Dikshit and Gupta to sit together and solve the issue out of court and posted the matter for May 8.
The petition filed by the chief minister had stated that the BJP, under Gupta's leadership, had "tried to defame her in public by putting up hoardings across the city accusing her government of corruption in fixing of new power tariff in connivance with the private power distribution companies."
The judge said the issue should not be "carried forward".
"Sit and decide, this is the thing which has gone. This is not the issue which should be carried forward," Justice Gambhir said after advocates informed him that they could settle the case out of court.
Appearing for Gupta, senior advocate Aman Lekhi said fair criticism was part of democracy. "The statement was made against the government and nothing was said against the person."
Lekhi told the court that the action taken by his client was not intended to malign any individual but was directed against the government.
Dikshit's advocate said he was willing to withdraw the petition if BJP leader gave an undertaking that he would not make uncivilised remarks against Dikshit in future.
"The mere giving of such an undertaking would amount to an admission that in the past I had made uncivilised remark," Lekhi said, opposing the contentions of Dikshit's lawyer.
He said this was an unprecedented suit where Dikshit had come to the court against fair criticism by a leader of the opposition.
Dikshit had filed a suit against Gupta after he refused to tender a "public apology" for setting up hoardings across the city accusing her government of "openly" looting thousands of crores of rupees by misrepresenting facts on power tariff and conniving with the private discoms.
The petition filed by the chief minister had stated that the BJP, under the leadership of Gupta, "tried to defame her in public by putting up hoardings across the city accusing her government of corruption in fixing of new power tariff in connivance with the private power distribution companies."
Dikshit had demanded a token Re.1 for the damage caused to her reputation by Gupta.
The hoardings which were put up in June 2010 had claimed that the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) was going to recommend reduction in power tariff, but the chief minister "came in the way".
Dikshit filed the suit after Gupta refused to tender a "public apology for the slander", as demanded by her.