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'Let democracy take its own course': Delhi HC dismisses plea seeking removal of Kejriwal as CM

The bench had previously dismissed a similar plea seeking the removal of Kejriwal as CM following his arrest in the excise policy-linked money laundering case. The court has reserved its verdict on a plea challenging Kejriwal's arrest by the Enforcement Directorate.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee New Delhi Updated on: April 04, 2024 13:12 IST
Delhi HC, Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM, excise policy case
Image Source : PTI (FILE) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal arriving before a court after his arrest.

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed a plea seeking the removal of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister, after he was recently arrested over the excise policy-linked money laundering scam, telling the petitioner to seek the remedy "elsewhere". The High Court asserted that personal interest has to be subordinate to national interest.

"At times, personal interest has to be subordinate to national interest but that is his personal call. We are a court of law and have to go by the law. Your remedy does not lie here, it lies elsewhere. You go before the competent forum," a bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora said. The bench further said, "Let democracy take its own course'.

The bench said it has recently dismissed a similar PIL seeking removal of Kejriwal from the post of chief minister and thus, it cannot take a different view. As the court refused to interfere in the issue, petitioner Vishnu Gupta's lawyer said he had instructions to withdraw the petition and that he would approach the Lieutenant Governor with his plea. 

Delhi HC reserves plea challenging Kejriwal's arrest

Meanwhile, the High Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on a petition by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the money-laundering case. Kejriwal had questioned the "timing" of his arrest and said it was in contravention of the basic structure of the Constitution, including free and fair elections and level playing field.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing the CM, argued, "In this case, an attempt was made to destroy the party by arresting him before the elections. Singhvi - The timing of the arrest is enough to question the intentions of ED. Singhvi – The first summons of the ED was issued in October. Arrests take place in March. Look at the timing. ED does not have any evidence worthy of arrest under PMLA. Arrest has been made in this case without recording any statement."

"This arrest does not meet the provisions given in sections 15 and 19 of PMLA. Kejriwal's statement was not recorded between the first summons and arrest. After all, what is the need for haste in this matter…there was so much gap between the first and last summons. If a constitutional amendment tampers with the basic structure of the Constitution then it is struck down," he added.

AAP to hold hunger strike on April 7

Aam Aadmi Party leaders will sit on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on April 7 against the arrest of the Delhi CM, said party leader Gopal Rai on Wednesday. "If you are against the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister, you can fast against it on April 7. You can hold the collective fast anywhere -- at home, in your city, anywhere," he said. Kejriwal is currently held at Tihar jail and is being provided home-cooked food as per the court's order and all his vital statistics are normal, according to authorities.

The case pertains to the alleged corruption and money laundering in formulating and executing the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 which was later scrapped. The case originated from a report presented by Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar to Lieutenant Governor (LG) Vinai Kumar Saxena in July 2022, highlighting purported procedural deficiencies in the development of the policy.

Kejriwal's name has been mentioned multiple times in the charge sheets filed by the ED in the excise policy case. The agency has alleged that the accused were in touch with Kejriwal to formulate the excise policy that resulted in undue benefits for them in return for which they paid kickbacks to the Aam Aadmi Party.

(with inputs from agencies)

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