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Delhi HC rejects plea seeking removal of 'jailed' Arvind Kejriwal as CM

The petitioner said that after the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal on March 21, there was a 'lack of government' in the national capital

Kejriwal, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal (Photo: PTI)

Nandini Singh New Delhi

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The Delhi High Court (HC) on Thursday declined to entertain a petition seeking the removal of Arvind Kejriwal from the position of chief minister (CM) of Delhi while he is detained in Tihar Jail. A division bench of the court stated that it was Kejriwal's personal decision whether to continue in office as chief minister.

The court also directed the petitioner to address the matter to the appropriate constitutional authorities. "At times, personal interest has to be subordinate to national interest, but that is his [Kejriwal's] personal call," said the high court.

"We are a court of law. Do you have any precedent where the President's rule or Governor's rule has been imposed by the court?" it added.

The petition was filed by Vishnu Gupta, a social worker and national president of the Hindu Sena. Gupta subsequently withdrew his petition, stating that he would make a presentation before the Lieutenant Governor .

The petitioner's counsel argued that after the arrest of Kejriwal on March 21, there was a "lack of government" in the national capital.

The court had previously dismissed similar pleas, both last week and in January (weeks before Kejriwal was arrested).

Last week, the acting Chief Justice stated that the removal of a sitting chief minister falls outside the purview of judicial interference. "It is for the other wings of the government to examine, in accordance with the law, this issue," the court said. And for the plea before that, a bench led by then Chief Justice Rajendra Menon made a firm statement, noting "prosecution is going on... he may be acquitted."

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam, which has caused turmoil within the AAP just weeks before the election. The Opposition has also condemned the arrest of a sitting chief minister and other senior political leaders, including the Bharat Rashtra Samithi's (BRS) K Kavitha.

Arguing for interim relief on Wednesday, Kejriwal's lawyer questioned the timing of the arrests.

"Why this urgency? I am not talking about politics, I am talking about law," senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, arguing the arrest was meant to "demolish AAP before the first vote is cast".

After hearing Singhvi and the ED's counter, the high court reserved its verdict for this afternoon.

Kejriwal is currently in Delhi's Tihar Jail and has been remanded to judicial custody till April 15.

The ED is investigating what it alleges is a Rs 600 crore scam involving the now-scrapped liquor excise policy for the national capital. The agency contends that profit margins were revised arbitrarily to cover bribes paid for the allotment of alcohol sales licenses. The agency further alleges that this money, amounting to at least Rs 45 crore, was used by the AAP to fund its election campaigns in Goa and Punjab.

Kejriwal and the AAP have strongly refuted all allegations, stating that the BJP is using central agencies such as the ED to unfairly target and harass rivals ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP, in turn, has denied these claims.

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections will take place in seven phases, beginning April 19.

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First Published: Apr 04 2024 | 1:42 PM IST

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