Friday, April 12, 2024

Arvind Kejriwal Issues His 1st Order From Enforcement Directorate Lock-Up

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Arvind Kejriwal has been remanded in ED’s custody for a week

New Delhi:

Amid the debate on whether he can continue to work as Delhi Chief Minister from prison, Arvind Kejriwal today issued his first order from the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) lock-up. The order was related to the national capital’s water supply, and the Chief Minister issued it through a note to Delhi minister Atishi, who handles the portfolio.

In a press meet later in the day, Ms Atishi said she was in tears on reading the Chief Minister’s note. “Arvind Kejriwal ji has sent me a letter and a direction. On reading it, I was in tears. I kept thinking who is this man, who is in prison, but is still thinking about Delhi residents’ water and sewage problems. Only Arvind Kejriwal can do this because he considers himself a family member of Delhi’s 2 crore people,” she said.

“I want to tell the BJP, you can arrest Arvind Kejriwal and put him in jail, but you cannot imprison his love and sense of duty for Delhi’s people,” she said, adding that the AAP leader may be in jail, but “no work will stop”.

Reading out the letter, she said, “Arvind Kejriwal ji has written, ‘I have come to know that some areas of Delhi are facing water supply and sewer problems. I am worried about this. People should not face any problem because I am in jail. Summer is here, so please ensure adequate tankers in areas facing water shortage. Please give directions to the Chief Secretary and other officials so that people face no difficulty. People should get immediate and proper solution to their problems. Please seek help from the Lieutenant Governor if needed. He will surely help you’.”

“Even today, after being arrested, Arvind Kejriwal ji is thinking about the people of Delhi,” Ms Atishi said.

Mr Kejriwal, who was arrested by ED on Thursday night in a money laundering case linked to Delhi’s now-scrapped liquor policy, has been remanded in the central agency’s custody for a week. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has denied the allegations against him and accused the BJP-led central government of using probe agencies for political goals.

The AAP has made it clear that Mr Kejriwal will continue to be Chief Minister despite his arrest. While no law bars him, prison rules will make it very difficult.

A former law officer of Delhi’s Tihar Jail says an inmate can hold only two meetings in a week.

“Running a government from jail is not straightforward. The jail manual states that you can meet your family, friends, or associates only twice a week. So it will not be easy for him to govern with these restrictions,” Sunil Gupta has told NDTV.

There is, however, one way out. Mr Kejriwal can carry on as Chief Minister if he can get authorities to put him under house arrest. This would, however, require an approval from Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena.

“The Administrator has the authority to declare any building as a jail,” Mr Gupta said, drawing parallels with past instances where court complexes were designated as temporary jails. Such measures could help Mr Kejriwal continue to run the government from prison.

But such an order from the Lieutenant Governor’s office seems unlikely, given the history of face-offs between the Centre’s nominee and the AAP government.

The Union Home Ministry, it is learnt, is examining ramifications of Mr Kejriwal not resigning. Legal experts said the Centre may have to suspend or remove him from the post since he is a public servant. This is also the procedure that is followed for government officials who are arrested. They are immediately suspended from service, sources said.

Mr Kejriwal is the fourth high-profile arrest in the liquor policy case, after top AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh and Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha.



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