Delhi HC imposes fine on petitioner seeking permission, facilities for CM Kejriwal to govern from jail

Insight Online News

New Delhi, May 8 : Turning it down as not maintainable, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday imposed a Rs one lakh fine on a petitioner, who sought permission and facilities for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to govern from judicial custody.

Filed by advocate Shrikant Prasad, the PIL petition sought to facilitate virtual conferencing arrangements for CM Kejriwal to engage with cabinet ministers, ensuring uninterrupted governance. It also sought to restrain media houses from sensationalising news about the CM’s potential resignation and the imposition of President’s Rule in the national capital.

On Wednesday, a division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan observed that since CM Kejriwal has already filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court challenging his arrest by ED and that the top court is considering the issue of interim release, no orders for allowing him to interact with cabinet ministers through virtual conferencing is called for in the PIL.

The bench said that it can neither impose censorship by directing the media not to air views nor stop political opponents from making statements calling for Kejriwal’s resignation.

The PIL had targeted Virendra Sachdeva, BJP Delhi president, alleging that his protests and statements create undue pressure for CM Kejriwal’s resignation, disrupting peace and traffic flow with politically motivated intentions.

The bench rejected the PIL with a Rs 1 lakh fine to be deposited with AIIMS.

The court criticised the PIL asking, “What do we do? Impose an emergency? Impose censorship or martial law? How do we pass gag orders against the press and political rivals?”

Prasad’s petition stressed the commendable track record of Delhi’s governance, particularly in the education and healthcare sectors over the past seven years. It contends that the present circumstances in the national capital violate fundamental rights under Articles 21, 14, and 19 of the Indian Constitution.

Asserting that neither the Constitution nor any law prohibits ministers, including chief ministers or prime ministers, from governing from jail, Prasad’s plea stressed the urgency of the matter, citing the need to ensure continuity in governance for the welfare of the people.

“As the makers of the Constitution were vigilant enough that there might be a situation when the politics of the country will enter into the worst and at that time just to keep the public fundamental rights upheld it is very much required that there is no compulsion or any obligation for resignation, otherwise gravest repercussions may arise by repeating the same modus operandi for making any minister resign,” Prasad’s PIL said.

The petition urged expedited consideration from the court, citing the exceptional governance of Delhi amidst CM Kejriwal’s incarceration, attributed to alleged political motives and false implications in the liquor policy case.

“The Aam Aadmi Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal got a sweeping majority by winning 62 out of 70 seats in the 2020 Delhi Legislative Assembly election. Also in the preceding Delhi Assembly election on 07th Feb 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal won 67 out of 70 seats with absolute majority. The above ratio shows that governance of Delhi by Shri Arvind Kejriwal is an unprecedented move in India,” Prasad’s petition said.

The plea stressed the constitutional safeguards and the imperative to maintain governance continuity despite the Chief Minister’s legal predicament.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is in judicial custody in the alleged Delhi excise policy scam case.

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