Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest | India expresses ‘strong objection’ to remarks of U.S. State Department

The Ministry of External Affairs said that ‘fellow democracies’ should respect each other’s sovereignty and highlighted India’s ‘independent judiciary’. 

Updated - March 28, 2024 04:47 pm IST

Published - March 27, 2024 02:12 pm IST - New Delhi

Gloria Berbena. File

Gloria Berbena. File | Photo Credit: Photo Credit: X/@USAndIndia

India on Wednesday summoned a U.S. diplomat and expressed “strong objection” to the remarks of the spokesperson of the U.S. State Department on the arrest of Delhi chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a case of alleged corruption.

In a statement the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that “fellow democracies’ should respect each other’s sovereignty and highlighted India’s “independent judiciary”. 

“We take strong objection to the remarks of the Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department about certain legal proceedings in India. In diplomacy, states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others. This responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies. It could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents,” said the MEA in a response.

On March 25, the spokesperson of the State Department had said the U.S. government hoped Mr. Kejriwal’s case would be treated through a “timely legal process”. 

“We encourage a fair, transparent, and timely legal process for Chief Minister Kejriwal,” the U.S. spokesperson said in response to an emailed question about the case.

Also read: Arvind Kejriwal arrest LIVE updates- March 28

Gloria Berbena, the U.S.’s Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, was also summoned to a 40-minute meet at the South Block on Wednesday to convey the protest officially, according to sources.

Despite New Delhi’s stern summons, however, the U.S. government repeated its concerns at its briefing in Washington on Wednesday, saying the US “continues to follow” the Central government’s actions in the run up to general elections, including Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest.

“We are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections”, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a response that is likely to further invite a reaction from India.

“We encourage fair, transparent and timely legal processes for each of these issues....We don’t think anyone should object to that,” he added in the comments that came in response to a journalist from Bangladesh who cited a critical report by human rights agency Amnesty International on the run up to elections.

MEA India summons U.S. Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Gloria Berbena in Delhi

Earlier this week, the MEA had also summoned Germany’s Deputy Chief of Mission Georg Enzweiler after German Foreign Office spokesperson Sebastian Fischer had said that his country had taken note of Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest. He had said “We assume and expect that the standards relating to the independence of the judiciary and basic democratic principles will also be applied in this case.”

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