Delhi HC dismisses another PIL seeking CM Kejriwal’s removal

Insight Online News

New Delhi, April 4 : The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to entertain a PIL seeking the removal of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal from the position of Chief Minister.

The petition, filed by Hindu Sena President, Vishnu Gupta, said the situation after CM Kejriwal’s recent arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the money laundering case related to the alleged excise policy scam constitutes a breach of constitutional trust mandated by the Constitution.

CM Kejriwal is currently in judicial custody till April 15, after he was sent to jail by a Delhi court on Monday.

The high court on Thursday underscored the primacy of national interest over personal prerogatives but indicated that the removal of a chief minister falls outside its jurisdiction.

“At times, personal interest has to be subordinate to national interest. But that is his (Kejriwal’s) personal opinion. If he does not want to do that, it’s up to him. We are a court of law. Do you have any precedent that president’s rule or governor’s rule has been imposed by the court?” the court said.

The bench told the counsel that his remedy lies elsewhere and that he should approach the constitutional authorities.

Rejecting the plea, the court advised the petitioner to seek redress from constitutional authorities rather than anticipate judicial intervention in what it described as a “practical issue, not a legal issue”.

“This is a practical issue, not a legal issue. We won’t go into this…The governor is fully competent. He does not need our guidance. There is a discretion to take the call. Let’s not anticipate that they won’t discharge their functions. We can’t venture into this,” the bench said.

Notably, last week, the high court dismissed a similar PIL seeking CM Kejriwal’s removal as the Chief Minister, saying there is no scope for judicial interference, and that it is for the other wing of the government to examine the same in accordance with the law.

Gupta’s petition, however, argued that under Article 164 of the Constitution, a Chief Minister’s dismissal is warranted if they act in a manner that undermines the rule of law or breaches constitutional trust.

Furthermore, it alleged that since CM Kejriwal’s arrest, the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi has failed to convene cabinet meetings, thereby disrupting the constitutional framework and hindering the functioning of governance.

The petitioner contended that CM Kejriwal’s eligibility to continue as Chief Minister ceases upon his arrest, citing the seriousness of the charges against him under both the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Despite the absence of explicit provisions in the Constitution for such circumstances, the PIL argued that the constitutional courts have the authority to intervene to ensure the integrity of administration and governance.

“The Constitution of India did not visualise a situation where in the event of arrest, the Chief Minister can run his government either from judicial custody or police custody,” it said.

The crux of the PIL revolved around whether the Governor possesses the discretion to dismiss a Chief Minister in an extraordinary situation such as arrest, given the Constitution’s silence on the matter.

“…substantial Question of Law which arises for consideration by this Hon’ble Court is as to whether the discretion in the matter of appointment of Chief Minister by the Governor includes the power to dismiss the Chief Minister in an extra-constitutional situation like the arrest of the Chief Minister. Because the Constitution of India is silent on such a situation,” it said.

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