Arvind Kejriwal: Is Resignation The Only Option For AAP Leader To Let Delhi Govt Survive?

Arvind Kejriwal: Is Resignation The Only Option For AAP Leader To Let Delhi Govt Survive?

On many occasions, AAP leaders have asserted that Kejriwal will remain Chief Minister and will function from jail.

Vinay MishraUpdated: Tuesday, April 02, 2024, 02:45 PM IST
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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal | PTI Photo/Arun Sharma

Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been sent to judicial custody until April 15 in the now scrapped liquor policy-linked money laundering case. He was arrested on March 21 following the Delhi High Court's refusal to grant him protection from action by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

After it became apparent that Kejriwal is not coming out of jail anytime soon, with a Delhi court sending him to judicial custody on Monday, concerns are being raised about how he will function from jail and discharge his duties if he chooses to continue holding the CM post while incarcerated.

On one hand, AAP leaders have been giving public statements that there is no reason for Kejriwal to relinquish his post. On the other hand, legal experts have expressed their opinions, agreeing with AAP leaders to a point that there isn't any legal provision that requires Kejriwal to resign as CM, while raising serious doubts about the feasibility of functioning as a full-time Chief Minister from prison.

AAP Minister Atishi's statement:

On many occasions, AAP leaders have asserted that Kejriwal will remain Chief Minister and will function from jail. In a latest statement, Delhi Minister Atishi, while answering a question about Kejriwal's resignation during a press conference on Tuesday, said, "There are two constitutional and legal provisions related to this in our country. The Representation of the People Act states that if you have a conviction for more than two years, then you cannot remain a public representative. Arvind Kejriwal has not been convicted... Arvind Kejriwal enjoys the overwhelming majority of the Delhi Assembly, so there is no reason for Arvind Kejriwal to resign. If Arvind Kejriwal resigns today, then it will be a very simple and straightforward solution for the Bharatiya Janata Party to topple the opposition governments..."

Legal provisions regarding the CM's functioning from jail:

Views of legal experts are in suport of Delhi High Court's observations on March 28 when it had dismissed a PIL seeking removal of Kejriwal from the post of chief minister.

The HC has indicated that there is no legal basis preventing Kejriwal from continuing to govern after his arrest, thus ruling out any need for judicial intervention. It further emphasised that executive authorities would step in if there were any constitutional issues or failures.

According to the Representation of the People Act, a legislator can only be treated as disqualified after conviction by a court. After disqualification, one cannot continue to hold a ministerial position. While this scenario has never occurred before, an AAP leader can still function from jail.

Why it would be nearly impossible to govern from jail:

Many legal experts have opined that for Kejriwal to function from Tihar jail will be nearly impossible because running a government is not just signing documents. It requires holding cabinet meetings to discuss important issues with cabinet colleagues and reach conclusions. It also involves consultations with the Lieutenant Governor.

If Kejriwal continues to remain CM, he will have to seek permission from the court and the authorities for every action he proposes to take as chief minister.

Strict prison rules will make it challenging for Kejriwal to function, as they don't allow any documents except prison documents to enter the premises. With these restrictions, government files will not be permitted inside the prison.

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