The summons issued by the Trial Court against the BJP MLA Vijender Gupta in a criminal defamation complaint filed by Delhi's Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot has been stayed by the Delhi High Court today.

Gupta, the BJP MLA from Rohini and former Leader of Opposition, has spearheaded a campaign against alleged irregularities committed in the procurement of 1000 low floor buses by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri of the Delhi Court sought the AAP leader's and Delhi Government's stand on Gupta's petition challenging the summons issued to him as accused, while listing the matter for further hearing on March 4. In the meantime, the order shall remain stayed, the Court ordered.

The Trial Court, on October 11, issued an order summoning Gupta on November 16 while holding that prima facie there was enough evidence to summon the MLA as an accused for the alleged offence of defamation.

On behalf of Gupta, Senior Counsel Ajay Burman argued before the High Court that his client was squarely covered under the exceptions to defamation under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as the statements were made in discharge of public duty as a Leader of Opposition.

He also claimed that the criminal defamation complaint was not maintainable before a Magistrate's Court. The Court was also informed that another Single-Judge of the High Court had earlier refused to grant any ex-parte interim relief to the Minister on his suit against the allegedly defamatory Tweets.

Senior Advocate Manish Vashisht, appearing for Gahlot, stated that Gupta's Tweets were absolutely scandalous and made in the absence of any conclusive finding by any judicial body. You are doing dharna outside my house, you are defaming me in front of my family, the Senior Counsel said.

In his complaint before the Trial Court, Gahlot has alleged that Gupta "intentionally and for malafide purposes" defamed him and tarnished his reputation to gain political mileage. He claimed that Gupta levelled "defamatory, scandalous, mischievous, false and scurrilous allegations" verbally as well as in writing.

With PTI inputs