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Kejriwal continuing as CM even after arrest puts political interest over national interest, says Delhi High Court

The court's observations came after the Delhi government counsel said the matter requires certain approvals from Kejriwal who is in custody in the alleged money laundering case in connection with the 2021 excise policy.
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 18:05 IST
Last Updated : 26 April 2024, 18:05 IST

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday pulled up the city government over the issue of non-supply of books to the children studying in MCD schools, saying the continuation of Arvind Kejriwal as the chief minister even after his arrest puts political interest over national interest. The court said the Delhi government was 'interested in appropriation of power'.

The court's observations came after the Delhi government counsel said the matter requires certain approvals from Kejriwal who is in custody in the alleged money laundering case in connection with the 2021 excise policy.

The court stated that till now it has 'politely' emphasised that national interest is 'supreme' but the present 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 told the Delhi government lawyer that his client 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 said.

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

The bench further said the persons who lead have to 'carry everyone along' as it cannot be a case of 'one man upmanship'.

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 Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) commissioner makes a formal request for financial approvals even in the absence of the civic body's standing committee.

The court noted that the Delhi government counsel was appearing on instructions from the Urban Development Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj and stated, '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.

'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?' the court said.

The court remarked that several projects concerning distribution of books and medicines were admittedly stalled, and questioned, 'Don't you have a heart? Don't you feel for them?'

"I don't think you are seeing any of this. I think you are just shedding crocodile tears," the court further said.

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

"Desks and chairs are broken.. Would any of the corporators like their children to study in that manner? Will the mayor like her children to study in a place where tables are broken?" asked the court.

The MCD commissioner had earlier stated that 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.

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the Delhi government said that the standing committee could not be appointed due to the 'unilateral' nomination of 10 aldermen to the commission by the Lieutenant Governor and the issue is pending before the Supreme Court.

He further said even for passing the MCD budget, the matter was directly sent by the commissioner to the corporation as there was no standing committee and the budget was passed.

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Published 26 April 2024, 18:05 IST

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