ANI Photo | Legal experts flag concerns over CM Kejriwal discharging duties from jail

After the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) clarified that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will run the government from jail following his arrest, legal experts flagged concerns over the CM discharging his duties from the prison.
Arvind Kejriwal may face various difficulties in discharging his duties from jail; however, the law does not prohibit anyone from heading the government from prison, the legal luminaries opined.
CM Kejriwal was arrested on Thursday night by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) after he skipped multiple summons by the investigation agency, nine in total, calling them “illegal.”
The legal experts asserted that inside prison, everyone is equal and jail rules uniformly apply to all.
Speaking to ANI on the practical difficulties the chief minister will face while discharging his duties from the prison, constitutional expert PDT Achary explained that Kejriwal, as a prisoner inside the Tihar Jail, will face various restrictions.
“Kejriwal’s arrest does not change his status as Chief Minister,” Achary said, adding, “whether he can perform his function as Chief Minister smoothly is subjected to a jail manual.”
“If a jail manual permits such things, then it is ok; otherwise, he has to get permission from the court and then the court has to give a specific direction to jail officials,” he said.
Achary said that Arvind Kejriwal can remain as the chief minister even after the arrest because he has not yet been disqualified from the House as a member.
Elaborating on the role of the elected head of state, he said that the chief minister has to preside over the cabinet meeting and has to make many decisions in the file. He said that video conferencing can be used to hold meetings with ministers but flagged the issue that such practices may violate the confidentiality of the cabinet meeting.
“The files will have to be sent to him and then he will have to meet with officers and discuss things with them. This happens on a day-to-day basis,” he said. Commenting further, he said the point is whether the jail rules allow such a thing.
“That is to be seen when he is in jail because a prisoner has been subject to the jail manual rules and whether the jail rules permit him to do such things is important,” he remarked.
Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Ramesh Gupta said that it is a peculiar situation that will depend on the jail manual and the relaxation given by the court if CM Kejriwal moves any application. It will also depend on the ED’s submission before the court when Kejriwal moves any application, he said.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh referred to Kejriwal’s decision to continue being the Chief Minister of Delhi as incorrect and said that it could be a political claim but not a bona fide claim.
Advocate Nalin Kohli referred to it as an interesting question and said that such a strange thing has never been contemplated in our constitutional scheme of things.
“This is like a constitutional oxymoron,” Kohli said, flagging the issue that someone who is accused of corruption wants to run the government and serve the people.
“It’s unimaginable that someone who is accused of corruption wants to run the government and serve the people from jail,” the lawyer said, adding, “The constitution is beneficial; corruption is the antithesis of that.”
Additionally, the jail is not a space to enable those who have taken the oath of the Constitution to serve the people. Jails are meant to protect the public by keeping those who are accused of criminality away from them, advocate Kohli said.
“So this is nothing but a case of political greed to somehow hang onto power. It has nothing to do with the so-called high moral principles that AAP is claiming to foster. In reality, they have done everything opposite to whatever they promised to the public over the last 10 years,” Kohli said.
Highlighting the difficulties in running a government from jail, former Tihar Jail official Sunil Gupta has said that various restrictions in jail will cause problems for the Chief Minister in performing his duties. He also pointed out that security will be compromised in such scenarios.
CM Kejriwal has been remanded to ED custody till March 28. The case pertains to alleged irregularities and money laundering in framing and implementing the Delhi Excise Policy 2022, which was later scrapped

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