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Arvind Kejriwal has put personal interest over the national interest by not resigning: Delhi HC lambasts AAP govt & MCD for failure to provide textbooks to over 2 lakh students

The court told the Delhi Government's counsel, "As a court, distribution of books, uniforms, etc., this is not our job. We are doing this because someone is failing in their job. Your client is just interested in power. I don't know how much power do you want."

On 26th April, in a stinging setback to the Aam Aadmi Party, the Delhi High Court censured the Delhi government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD,) which is also headed by his party because it failed to supply textbooks to more than two lakh students. The court further ruled that Arvind Kejriwal had prioritized his personal interests over the welfare of the country by refusing to step down despite his arrest and that the Delhi government was just interested in seizing power.

The harsh criticism was voiced by a Division Bench consisting of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) addressing the complaint that MCD school pupils are not receiving textbooks and are being taught in tin sheds due to a stalemate in the civic body. The NGO Social Jurist filed the petition highlighting that the MCD schools are depriving its children of legally required supplies such as notebooks, writing instruments and uniforms.

The court told the Delhi Government’s counsel, “As a court, distribution of books, uniforms, etc., this is not our job. We are doing this because someone is failing in their job. Your client is just interested in power. I don’t know how much power do you want. The problem is that you are trying to appropriate power which is why you are not getting power.” In the course of the case’s prior hearing, the MCD Commissioner also informed the bench that about two lakh students were not receiving stationery reimbursement and they lacked bank accounts as well as uniforms.

Subsequently, the bench determined that children who were promoted to a new class without books or uniforms would become disinterested, leading to negative consequences for them. The court took note of the MCD’s 20th April affidavit which contended that the lack of a standing committee was one of the main reasons why uniforms, textbooks, and other supplies were not sent to the students.

Saurabh Bhardwaj, Minister of Urban Development, also came under fire as ACJ Manmohan charged that had chosen to ignore the suffering of students and was shedding crocodile tears. Shadan Farasat, the Delhi government’s lawyer claimed that he was instructed by the minister to obtain Arvind Kejriwal’s agreement before granting additional jurisdiction to a suitable body in the absence of the Standing Committee of MCD, however, he is now incarcerated to which ACJ Manmohan replied that students cannot be permitted to study without textbooks only because there is a vacuum.

“It is your choice that you have said that the government will continue despite the Chief Minister being in custody. You are forcing us to go down the road which we didn’t want to go. We have said it so many times in the PILs that came before us. But this is your administration’s call. If you want us to comment on it, we will come down with all the rigour. Your minister is saying that the CM is inside so we cannot take a call. You’re forcing us to make a comment. You are leaving us with no opportunity but to say all this,” the court reprimanded.

Judge Manmohan remarked that he would also include Saurabh Bhardwaj’s name in the order. According to Shadan Farasat, the Supreme Court is handling the situation and the LG unlawfully appointed alderman which is why MCD lacks a standing committee. Furthermore, he argued that the Delhi government doesn’t have much authority. The Court, however, asserted that the Delhi administration couldn’t care less if pupils don’t attend classes or don’t have textbooks. “All that you are interested in is power. This is arrogance of power at its highest,” it accused.

The court further noted that “people are pushing each other” and took judicial notice of the events occurring in the Delhi Government House. The court reiterated, “How much power you people can appropriate to yourself? How interested is your client to get power? What is the point of all this? This is the arrogance of power at its highest. This person is just looking for more power and power. You have placed your personal interest at the highest and not national interest. This document you’ve shown is an admission that nothing is working.”

“Your client doesn’t feel. At the expense of children, no further time can be given. Where you’re coming from, you’ll not find a solution. Don’t expect the court to give repeated opportunities. We are sitting at 5:45 pm to hear this,” the bench added.

The motion asked the MCD to issue an order ensuring that all students have active bank accounts and that they receive benefits in the form of bearer checks until these accounts are opened. The MCD Commissioner told the court earlier this week that contracts beyond Rs. 5 crores can only be awarded by the standing committee. The bench subsequently declared that there could not be a vacuum and that the Delhi Government should assign the financial authority to an appropriate body in the event that the standing committee is not constituted for any reason.

The bench conveyed that numerous projects in the nation’s capital are on hold since the standing committee has not been formed. “Either the one giving you instructions has no heart, has no eyes or has decided not to see anything. This document shows that projects are stalled.” The court noted that those in positions of leadership need to be liberal, able to work with people of all backgrounds and have the ability to keep the institution cohesive. “Very sorry to say, this is not happening in this case,” it observed.

The government was cautioned by the Court not to undermine it. “Don’t underestimate our guts. You are underestimating our power. You are putting children as a trading point, they are not a trading commodity for us.” The Delhi government’s stance in the case, according to ACJ Manmohan, is an admission of how awful things are there and nearly every significant MCD initiative is blocked. The court noted, “They don’t have notebooks, notepads, books and uniforms and they are studying in tin shades. We don’t think it’s fair.” In its conclusion, the court declared that the decision would be made on 29th April and reserved order in the case.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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