“Let Democracy Take Its Course”: Plea To Remove Arvind Kejriwal Rejected

The Delhi High Court has junked – for a third time – a plea seeking the removal of Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister after his arrest last month over corruption allegations. In a significant observation, a bench led by acting Chief Justice Manmohan said “let democracy take its own course”.

The court – a different bench of which will rule later today on Mr Kejriwal’s plea for interim relief in this matter – also refused to counsel Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena on forcing the Aam Aadmi Party leader to relinquish his post. “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,” the High Court said.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation by the Hindu Sena, which sought direction to the Lieutenant Governor to direct Mr Kejriwal to resign. The petitioner was told to prioritise national interest over “personal issues” and, if it wanted to persist, to “raise this issue before another forum”.

The court dismissed similar pleas last week and in January (weeks before Mr Kejriwal was arrested).

READ | Court Dismisses Plea Seeking Removal Of Kejriwal As Chief Minister

Last week the acting Chief Justice said the removal of a sitting Chief Minister is outside the scope 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 March 21 in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam that has roiled the AAP weeks before the election. The opposition has condemned the arrest of a sitting Chief Minister and other senior political leaders, including the Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s K Kavitha.

Arguing for interim relief Wednesday, Mr Kejriwal’s lawyer questioned the timing of the arrests.

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

READ | “Undertrial Prisoners Have No Right To…”: Arvind Kejriwal Bail Hearing

Mr Kejriwal is the AAP’s biggest public face and crowd-puller.

After hearing Mr Singhvi and the counter by the arresting agency (the Enforcement Directorate), the High Court reserved its verdict for this afternoon.

Mr Kejriwal is currently in Delhi’s Tihar Jail; he has been remanded to judicial custody till April 15.

Alleged Delhi Liquor Policy Scam

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

NDTV EXPLAINS | Why Enforcement Directorate Arrested Arvind Kejriwal

Mr Kejriwal and the AAP have vehemently denied all charges, and have accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of manipulating central agencies, like the ED, to target and harass rivals before polls.

The BJP, in turn, has denied these claims.

The 2024 Lok Sabha election will be held over seven phases beginning April 19. The results will be declared on June 4.

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