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Arvind Kejriwal using meetings with legal team to issue orders to ministers: Delhi Court rejects his plea to meet lawyers 5 times a week

The court dismissed the argument that since Arvind Kejriwal is accused in many legal cases he should be permitted to have more meetings with his legal team. The court noted that since such a privilege can’t be extended to other jail inmates, hence the Delhi CM can’t be treated above the law of the land.  

On Wednesday (10th April), a Delhi court dismissed the plea moved by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking direction to increase the number of legal meetings with his lawyers from two to five times a week. Notably, Kejriwal is under judicial custody in connection with the Delhi Liquor Policy scam. Yesterday the Delhi HC dismissed his plea against his arrest by ED noting that the material evidence shows that he conspired in the scam.  

In his application before the Delhi court, Kejriwal argued that he is facing multiple FIRs in various states, because of which a lot of legal work takes place and hence the number of meetings with his legal team should be increased. However, the court rejected the plea, saying that Kejriwal is not using the currently allowed two meetings with his lawyers to discuss his case, instead he is using them to send orders to his ministers in the Delhi govt.

Appearing for the respondent authorities, Special Counsel Zoheb Hossain opposed the application stating that the demand is clearly against the Jail Manual. According to the manual, only one legal meeting is allowed in a week, but in special circumstances, two meetings may be allowed. Kejriwal is already getting two legal meetings.

The counsel quipped if someone chooses to run the government from jail he cannot be treated exceptionally.

Used legal meetings to pass on directions to the Water Minister through his lawyer: Delhi Court

Special judge Kaveri Baweja observed that Kejriwal has been utilising the permitted two meetings with his legal team not only to discuss his pending litigations but also to use the allotted time for “purposes other than legal interviews”. 

According to the Judge, Kejriwal failed to satisfy the court that he has been using the two permitted legal meetings per week solely for discussing the pending litigations with his lawyers. According to the court, Arvind Kejriwal, through his lawyers, had passed directions to the Water Minister (Atishi Marlena).  

The court stated, “The status report/note filed by the Investigating Agency indicates that the Applicant had dictated certain directions for being passed on to the Water Minister, to one of his lawyers (whose name he refused to disclose to the Investigating Agency) during the course of a legal meeting.” 

Incidentally, on 24th March 2024, the Delhi government’s Water Minister Atishi Marlena addressed a press conference where she displayed a letter adding that Kejriwal had sent it to her. Back then, Kejriwal was in ED custody. 

(In March this year, Atishi Marlena displayed a letter Kejriwal had sent to her while he was in ED custody, Photo Credit – PTI)

Atishi added that through the letter, Kejriwal had instructed her to solve water- and sewer-related problems in some areas of the city. Following the incident, it was reported that the Enforcement Directorate took cognisance of Atishi’s statement that CM Kejriwal sent her directions while he was in ED custody.

Days later, the Delhi CM sent another letter to his health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, directing him to solve the issues of unavailability of free medicines and tests at some hospitals and mohalla clinics in Delhi.

Furthermore, the court found no statistical basis or objective assessment to grant Arvind Kejriwal five meetings with his legal team instead of two. It stated, “In the absence of any such objective criteria for assessment, the prayer of the Applicant for five (05) legal interviews with his lawyers per week not only appears to be whimsical but also seems to have been made without any statistical basis or objective standards for assessment.”

The court dismissed the argument that since the jailed AAP leader is accused in many legal cases he should be permitted to have more meetings with his legal team. The court noted that since such a privilege can’t be extended to other jail inmates, hence the Delhi CM can’t be treated above the law of the land.  

The court stated, “Even otherwise, regardless of the absence of any objective criteria for such assessment, if the prayer of the Applicant is allowed, would the courts, or for that matter the prison authorities, be under an obligation to grant more than five (05) visitation rights for legal meetings to other prisoners, who may be having more pending litigations than the Applicant?”

The Judge cited the observations of the Delhi High Court made in the case of Amanatullah Khan. In that case, the High Court held that a public figure is not above the law of the land.

Judge Baweja said that the Jail Rules which allow only two meetings will apply to Kejriwal like any other inmate.

The Court also dismissed Kejriwal’s contention that he should be entitled to 5 meetings based on parity, citing a similar order passed in the case of Sanjay Singh.

The court stated that the said order dated 22nd February.2024 [in Sanjay Singh case] was passed without hearing the opposite side and the Jail Authorities. Additionally, the relevant Jail Rules were also not considered while passing the said order. Hence, the court noted that the said order can neither be treated as a precedent nor can this application be allowed on the grounds of parity.

(With Inputs from ANI)

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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