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Supreme Court Junks Another Plea To Sack Arvind Kejriwal

Posted in Featured, S. Asia

Published on May 13, 2024 with No Comments

Arvind Kejriwal – who refused to step down as Chief Minister after his arrest, pointing out he has yet to be convicted – was released on interim bail last week
The Supreme Court has snubbed a petition seeking the removal of Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister of Delhi following his arrest in March in the alleged liquor policy scam case. The plea was filed by Kant Bhati, who challenged a Delhi High Court order last month quashing his request to sack Mr Kejriwal.
A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta said it was up to Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena to act, if the situation warranted intervention, and refused to interfere. The court said there was no legal merit to the petition and noted, “Ultimately it is a matter of propriety.” “How can we go into all this… let the LG take action if he wants to…” the court said.

The court’s handing off the plea to the Lieutenant Governor could open a fresh front in the ongoing squabble between Mr Saxena and the AAP, particularly after the former called for an anti-terror probe into allegations the Chief Minister received funding from the banned Sikhs For Justice group.
Petitions asking the courts to force Mr Kejriwal to resign have been frequent since the Aam Aadmi Party leader was sent to Delhi’s Tihar Jail last month, and have continued since his release last week on interim bail. In April the Delhi High Court junked – for a third time – a plea by a Hindu group seeking the AAP boss’ removal; the court said “let democracy take its own course”.
“He (Mr Saxena) doesn’t need our guidance. We are nobody to advise him. He will do whatever he has to, in accordance with the law,” a bench led by acting Chief Justice Manmohan said.

The court dismissed a similar plea back in 2019, when Mr Kejriwal was facing prosecution in a criminal case. “Prosecution is still going on. He may get acquitted. What will you do then? Come after he is convicted,” a bench led by then Chief Justice Rajendra Menon said then, “Nothing doing
Mr Kejriwal was arrested March 21 in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam that roiled the AAP weeks before the election. The arresting agency – the Enforcement Directorate – has claimed the (now scrapped) policy allowed the Delhi government to receive kickbacks for license allotment.

These kickbacks amounted to ₹ 100 crores, the ED has alleged, and was used to fund the AAP’s election campaigns in Goa and Punjab. The AAP and Mr Kejriwal have denied all charges and have accused the BJP of making false accusations to discredit the party and its leaders before the election.

Mr Kejriwal – who refused to step down as Chief Minister after his arrest, pointing out he has yet to be convicted and even passing a few orders to his government – was released on interim bail last week.

The court acknowledged he had to campaign for his party before Delhi’s Lok Sabha poll on May 25.

Underlining Mr Kejriwal’s position as an elected Chief Minister, the court said, “… these are extraordinary circumstances, and he is not a habitual offender. This is a question of public interest.”
The ED had opposed bail for Mr Kejriwal declaring no politician could claim “special status” higher than that of a citizen, and is as liable to be arrested for committing offences as any other person.

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Mr Kejriwal is out on interim bail till June 1; he must surrender to prison authorities by June 2. He had sought an extended bail – till after the results are declared on June 4 – but the court turned him down.

 

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