Delhi HC pulls up Kejriwal for staying on as CM after his arrest

Observes that Delhi government was 'interested in appropriation of power'


The Delhi High Court, on Friday, came down heavily on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, observing that his continuation at the top post even after his arrest puts political interest over national interest.

The court said the Delhi government was "interested in appropriation of power".

The HC made these remarks after the Delhi government counsel said the issue of non-supply of books to the children studying in Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) schools requires certain approvals from Kejriwal who is in custody in the alleged money laundering case in connection with the 2021 excise policy.

The court said so far, it has "politely" emphasised that national interest is "supreme" but the case has highlighted what was "wrong" and it would pass an order in the matter on Monday.

"I am sorry to say you have placed your interest above the interest of the students, the children that are studying. That is very clear and we are going to give that finding that you have placed your political interest at a higher pedestal. It is very unfortunate that you have done this. It is wrong and that is what has got highlighted in this matter," said the bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet P.S. Arora.

The court said the Delhi CM is "just interested in appropriation of power."

"I don't know how much power you want. The problem is because you are trying to appropriate power, which is why you are not getting power."

It is the personal call of the chief minister if he wants the administration to be "paralysed", the court said.

The Delhi government counsel said he was not appearing for the chief minister and assured the court that the issue of non-supply of educational material would be resolved if the MCD commissioner made a formal request for financial approvals even in the absence of the civic body's standing committee.

Pointing out that the government counsel was appearing on instructions from the Urban Development Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, the court said, "We will record your statement that it is because the chief minister is in custody that I cannot do anything. If that's his personal call, good luck to him."

"Choice is yours that the chief minster will continue despite being in jail. We will have to say this. This is your administration's will. You are asking us to go down that track and we will come with full vigour," said Justice Manmohan.

The court was dealing with a PIL by NGO Social Jurist, represented by advocate Ashok Agarwal, highlighting the non-supply of educational material and other statutory benefits to students in the MCD schools even after the commencement of the new academic session.

The MCD commissioner had previously said the non-distribution of the facilities was due to the non-formation of a standing committee which has the power to reward contracts worth more than Rs 5 crore.

The court had then prima facie said there could not be a vacuum in the absence of a standing committee and in such a situation, the financial power has to be delegated forthwith by the Delhi government to another appropriate authority.

On Friday, the Delhi government counsel said the MCD commissioner was free to seek the necessary financial approvals even in such situations and an appropriate resolution would be passed.

The court reacted: "You people can't even elect your committee and you are telling us you will pass the resolution?... Do you want us to take judicial notice of what is happening in the house? How the people are pushing each other?"

Pointing out that several projects concerning the distribution of books and medicines were admittedly stalled, the court asked, "Don't you have a heart? Don't you feel for them?"

It said the Delhi government does not feel for the common man.

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