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  4. Arvind Kejriwal arrested: Can Delhi CM run government from behind bars? Here is what law says | EXPLAINED

Arvind Kejriwal arrested: Can Delhi CM run government from behind bars? Here is what law says | EXPLAINED

Following Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, now the question arises can Kejriwal continue to govern if put behind bars? Scroll down to read what the law says regarding this.

Written By: Anurag Roushan @Candid_Tilaiyan New Delhi Updated on: March 22, 2024 10:22 IST
Arvind Kejriwal arrested, Delhi Chief Minister
Image Source : INDIA TV Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED)  in an excise policy-linked money laundering case on Thursday night, March 21. The arrest came hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant protection to the Aam Aadmi Party national convenor from any coercive action by the agency.

Before the arrest, the probe agency reportedly questioned Kejriwal briefly and also made some seizures. According to reports, the ED transported Kejriwal to its central Delhi office in an SUV around 11:25 pm on Thursday. The officials said the ED would produce the Chief Minister before a court in Delhi on Friday and seek his custody for interrogation in the case. So far, the ED has filed six charge sheets in this matter and has seized assets valued at over Rs 128 crore.

Kejriwal to continue as Delhi CM: AAP

Meanwhile, the 55-year-old leader's arrest, amid the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, drew angry reactions from his Aam Aadmi Party. The party said Kejriwal "will continue as the Chief Minister of Delhi and if need be, he will run the government from jail." However, the BJP though demanded that Kejriwal step down as Chief Minister on moral grounds.

However, now the question arises can Kejriwal continue to govern if sent to jail? Delving into the legal framework, it's imperative to analyze the provisions that govern such scenarios.  

Here is what the law says: 

Protection from arrest?

The President of India and Governors of states and Union Territories enjoy constitutional immunity from civil and criminal proceedings until the completion of their term, as stipulated by Article 361 of the Constitution. This provision shields them from legal repercussions for any actions carried out in the discharge of their official duties. However, this immunity does not extend to Prime Ministers or Chief Ministers, as they are regarded as equals under the Constitution's principle of the Right to Equality before the law. Despite this, they are not automatically disqualified solely by virtue of an arrest.

Can Kejriwal run his govt from jail?

While it may be logistically impractical for a Chief Minister to effectively run their office from behind bars, there exists no legal barrier preventing them from doing so. According to the law, a Chief Minister can only face disqualification or removal from office upon conviction in any case. As of now, Arvind Kejriwal has not been convicted. The Representation of the People Act, 1951 outlines disqualification provisions for certain offences, but a conviction is a prerequisite for anyone holding the office.

A Chief Minister can be ousted from their position under two circumstances: either by losing majority support in the assembly or through a successful no-confidence motion against the government they lead.

In some instances, Chief Ministers have resigned either shortly before or after their arrest. A recent example is that of Hemant Soren, who resigned as the Jharkhand Chief Minister before being arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on January 31 of this year. He was subsequently replaced by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Champai Soren. 

Delhi excise policy scam case

It is alleged that the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge repeatedly refuted by the AAP. The policy was subsequently scrapped and Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation probe, following which the ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

ALSO READ: Arvind Kejriwal moves Supreme Court against arrest by ED in excise policy case, hearing likely today

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