22 Mar 2024

Can Arvind Kejriwal run govt from jail? What are legal ramifications and constitutional feasibility of such a scenario?

New Delhi: Following Arvind Kejriwal's arrest in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has affirmed that he will continue serving as the Chief Minister of Delhi, even from jail, according to Atishi, the current Deputy Chief Minister.

Atishi emphasized that Arvind Kejriwal's position as the Chief Minister is unwavering, with or without his physical presence. 

"From the outset, we've been clear that he will discharge his duties even if incarcerated. As he has not been convicted, there are no legal impediments," she stated.

First sitting CM to be arrested

Kejriwal's arrest marks a rare instance of a sitting Chief Minister facing such circumstances. His decision to carry on his duties from jail may potentially trigger a constitutional dilemma, reminiscent of when Lalu Yadav, then Chief Minister of Bihar, entrusted his responsibilities to his spouse, Rabri Devi, upon his arrest in the fodder scam case.

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, previously embroiled in an alleged land scam, was detained by the Enforcement Directorate after resigning from his post following a meeting with the Governor.

Home Ministry is  assessing the consequences of Kejriwal's refusal to resign

The Union Home Ministry is reportedly assessing the consequences of Kejriwal's refusal to resign. Legal experts suggest that, as a public servant, the Center may be compelled to suspend or remove him, aligning with the customary procedure for government officials facing arrest, wherein they are promptly suspended from their duties.

Kejriwal's arrest ensued after repeated summons for questioning, and the Delhi High Court's denial of protection from arrest. His legal team has promptly filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, urging for an expedited hearing.

The Enforcement Directorate, in a recent statement, has accused Kejriwal of involvement in a conspiracy, alleging collusion with K Kavitha of Bharat Rashtra Samithi, and AAP's Sanjay Singh and Manish Sisodia, to manipulate the now-defunct liquor policy for the benefit of a cartel. According to the agency, Kejriwal's name surfaced in the statements of some of the accused and witnesses.

Meanwhile, Sisodia, also implicated in the case, remains in custody. Following his arrest, his responsibilities were redistributed among several newly appointed cabinet members.

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