Delhi govt. won’t be run from jail: L-G; AAP says nothing can stop it  

Minister Atishi accuses BJP of conspiracy to impose President’s Rule; BJP says Kejriwal can’t issue orders from ED custody, demands investigation

Published - March 28, 2024 01:10 am IST - New Delhi

Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena on Wednesday said the Delhi government “won’t be run from jail”, drawing a sharp reaction from the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which said no constitutional provision bars it.

Finance Minister and AAP leader Atishi accused the BJP of conspiring to impose President’s Rule in Delhi.

The Centre-appointed L-G’s statement is likely to put under stress his already-strained relationship with the ruling party. AAP leaders and Mr. Saxena have been at loggerheads over several issues in the past, especially regarding the control of the bureaucracy.

The L-G made the remark at a public event, days after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Mr. Kejriwal in a case involving allegations that he solicited kickbacks in return for favours to certain liquor manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers through the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22.

Mr. Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 after he skipped nine summonses issued by the agency since December last year. He was remanded in ED custody till March 28 by a trial court.

The ruling AAP has trashed the charges and maintained that the CM won’t resign from his post and will run the government from jail.

Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva lodged a complaint with Police Commissioner Sanjay Arora on Wednesday regarding the orders issued by Mr. Kejriwal after his arrest. In two separate orders, the CM had asked Delhi Ministers to plug shortage of medicines at Delhi government hospitals and deal with water supply-related problems.

Mr. Sachdeva demanded a probe into the “illegal” orders, saying the CM can’t issue orders from ED custody.

However, Ms. Atishi said no constitutional provision bars “governance from jail”.

Citing the Representation of People Act, 1951, she said the CM can only be stopped from issuing orders if he or she ceases to be a member of the Assembly following conviction in a case in which the duration of sentence is two years or above.

“This does not apply to a person who is only an accused and has not been adjudged as guilty by a court of law,” she said.

The Minister also alleged that the BJP-led Centre wants to impose President’s Rule. She said the mere arrest of the Chief Minister can’t be grounds for imposition of President’s Rule.

“It is clearly a political conspiracy on the part of the BJP. First, the Chief Minister was arrested in a fake case, and then they [BJP] demanded his resignation for disrespecting the people’s mandate. And if he doesn’t resign, they will threaten to impose President’s Rule,” she said.

Ms. Atishi said President’s Rule can only be imposed if the ruling party loses the majority in the Assembly. “The apex court has repeatedly said that President’s Rule can be imposed only if there is no other choice left for the governance of a State,” the Minister also said.

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