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Arvind Kejriwal arrest: Why shouldn’t a lawmaker face action similar to public servants in custody?

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New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) Whether Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal – who issued two orders from the Enforcement Directorate’s custody over water and sewage issues in the national capital – is legally entitled to pass such orders or should he be debarred from holding the office like a public servant?

After his arrest, the Delhi Chief Minister first issued an order to Water Minister Atishi from the custody of the ED on Sunday, another directive was issued on Tuesday to the Health Department on the smooth functioning of the AAP’s flagship Mohalla Clinics.

When AAP sources claim that the Chief Minister will continue to operate the government from jail, the two orders raise a significant question of constitutional morality. Undoubtedly, running a government from inside jail is bound to face logistical hurdles and functional limitations, particularly when the Chief Minister has to follow jail norms and would need prior approval from the court every time for the meetings, to sign the files, etc.

Why not a lawmaker get sacked automatically, if he or she is in judicial custody like an IAS officer or a court staffer is arrested and put in judicial custody for over 48 hours, then they are suspended?

The Supreme Court in 2022 had dismissed as withdrawn a PIL seeking a direction to the then Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in Maharashtra to sack jailed NCP leader Nawab Malik as a minister as well as seeking a direction to the Delhi government to sack minister Satyendar Jain, who was arrested in connection with criminal cases.

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Refusing to entertain the plea, the top court had observed that if the PIL is allowed, then it will completely submerge the principle of separation of power.

“We cannot incorporate disqualification in this manner and send somebody out,” the apex court had said, making it clear that it cannot enact a provision which becomes a binding law and an elected representative is thrown out of the House.

Along the same lines, a plea seeking the removal of jailed Tamil Nadu Minister Senthil Balaji from the state Council of Ministers was dismissed by the Supreme Court in January this year. The petitioner questioned the propriety of Balaji continuing in the cabinet even after he was sent to judicial custody in a money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the alleged cash-for-jobs scam.

Though the Madras High Court did not direct his removal, it had observed that the continuance of Balaji as a Minister without Portfolio serves no purpose and does not augur well with the Principles of Constitutional ethos on goodness, good governance and purity in administration.

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Chief Minister Kejriwal – who at this stage is only accused of soliciting kickbacks from liquor businessmen in exchange for favours – does not come within the purview of the 2013 Supreme Court decision in the Lily Thomas case, which had laid down that once a member of Parliament or a state legislature is convicted by a court and sentenced for two years, he or she is immediately disqualified from House.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Manoj Tiwari has cast doubt on the authenticity of the directive allegedly sent by CM Kejriwal to Delhi Minister Atishi, questioning the timing of its issuance.

BJP National Secretary, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, lodged a complaint with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinay Kumar Saxena and ED against Delhi Minister Atishi and others.

Sirsa alleged that the AAP leaders presented an illegal order in the name of the Delhi Chief Minister, claiming that the Chief Minister issued it while in ED custody.

Describing this act as entirely illegal, unconstitutional, and an abuse of the office of the Delhi CM, Sirsa asserted that it amounts to a criminal conspiracy. He emphasised that Arvind Kejriwal could not have issued such an order while under ED custody.

Sirsa further claimed that he has urged the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi to investigate the unlawful takeover of the Delhi CM’s office and its illegal operation. He called for action to be taken by registering a case against Atishi and other individuals involved in this matter.

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The issue of authenticity deepens when there is no permission to the CM by the court to issue orders from ED’s custody and these directives may possibly be aimed at political gains.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government’s Planning Secretary has issued orders that all welfare schemes of the city government will continue to operate and said that schemes and governance are never specific to individuals, but continue in the normal course.

Kejriwal, who was arrested last week and subsequently remanded to ED custody until March 28 by a Delhi court, faces allegations of direct involvement in a conspiracy related to the formulation of excise policy favouring specific individuals.

The ED has said that Kejriwal is the “kingpin and key conspirator” in the now-scrapped excise policy in collusion with AAP ministers, leaders and other persons.

On the other hand, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has refuted the accusations levelled against him and has accused the BJP-led Central government of “manipulating investigative agencies for political motives”.

–IANS

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Assam Police foil drug peddling attempt; 3 arrested

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Guwahati, June 16 (IANS) Assam Police have foiled an inter-state drug peddling attempt and arrested three narcotics peddlers including one resident of violence-hit Manipur on Sunday, officials said.

According to the police, the consignment of drugs was coming from Manipur and the peddlers were trying to deliver it somewhere in Goalpara district in Assam. However, the police foiled that attempt and seized contraband items.

An official said that the Special Task Force (STF) of Assam Police received prior information about the movement of narcotics in two vehicles.

“We received information that a notorious drug peddler, namely, Nasiruddin a.k.a. Nasir Bhai of Goalpara district and his associates in two vehicles would receive a narcotics consignment bound from Sora in Manipur to Goalpara which would be carried by a Manipuri carrier, namely Salim. He is a resident of Sora in the neighbouring state of Manipur,” he added.

The police said that a vehicle was intercepted in front of Boko Police Station in the Kamrup district and recovered at least 30 packets of heroin kept in a bag.

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“The total weight of the seized narcotics substances was 420 grams. Three occupants of the vehicle, Nasir Bhai, Atikur and the Manipuri carrier Salim were apprehended,” a police officer said.

However, a second escorting vehicle which was looking out for police checks escaped.

The house of the driver, Shohidul Islam of Matia area was searched, but he escaped, leaving behind the vehicle and his family members resisted and facilitated his escape, according to a statement by the police.

Necessary legal actions in the matter were initiated, police mentioned.

Meanwhile, in a joint operation of Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Police, at least 30,000 Yaba tablets were seized in Karimganj district on Sunday.

The BSF said that the market value of the seized contraband items must be around Rs 3 crore.

Two drug peddlers identified as Atikul Rehman and Saharul Islam were arrested. Both of them are residents of Karimganj district.

–IANS

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Haryana to soon start recruitment of 'Van Mitras'

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Chandigarh, June 16 (IANS) Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini on Sunday announced that recruitment of ‘Van Mitras’, who will be given an honorarium to take care of newly planted tree saplings, under the ‘Van Mitra’ Scheme will begin soon.

Presiding over a review meeting of the Forest and Wildlife Department, he also warned that if there is a delay in extinguishing the fire in forests, “accountability will be fixed from forest guards to senior officers”.

He directed the officers to ensure arrangements for supplying water from canals or tube-wells to national parks like Kalesar, Sultanpur and other dense forests so that this water can be used by wildlife during extreme heat and to aid in extinguishing fires.

The CM directed the officers to regularly map existing plants and those planted annually under the plantation campaign using drones.

He reviewed in detail the annual plantation drive conducted by the Forest Department and directed that these plants be geo-tagged and their growth should be monitored for five years with the help of drones.

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The Chief Minister was informed that a budget of Rs 150 crore has been allocated for the plantation drive for 2024-25, while Rs 10 crore will be spent on herbal parks.

He also said illegal cutting of trees from the forest areas will not be tolerated, and if any employee is found to be complicit, action will be taken against them.

He also released a brochure for the ‘Pran Vayu Devta’ scheme. The Chief Minister was also informed that under the scheme, the state government plans to provide an annual pension of Rs 2,750 to those who take care of trees over 75 years old. So far, 3,819 such trees have been identified under the scheme.

–IANS

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Eknath Shinde defends Sena leader Waikar's LS poll victory, dismisses oppn's 'EVM malfunction' claims

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremo Eknath Shinde on Sunday strongly defended the victory of his party leader Ravindra Waikar from Mumbai North West constituency against Shiv Sena (UBT) candidate Amol Kirtikar while dismissing the opposition’s charges of malfunctioning of EVMs at the counting centre.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister also questioned the opposition’s move to raise doubts over the EVMs’ functioning only in case of Waikar’s victory.

“The people of the constituency have elected Ravindra Waikar, and it is a people’s victory. The opposition is misleading the people over the EVM,” Shinde said while taking a swipe at the opposition, reiterating that Waikar had been elected by the people.

Waikar has rebutted the opposition charges, saying that it has been done because of its defeat.

“There were policemen, candidates and the candidates’ representatives present at the counting centre. So how can Ravindra Waikar go in and do something different? I don’t know how this is possible. The Opposition is unable to digest its defeat and therefore these allegations are made,” he said.

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Meanwhile, the Returning Officer of Mumbai North West Constituency Vandana Suryavanshi has also denied the malfunctioning of the EVMs.

”EVMs are standalone devices without any wired or wireless connectivity with units outside the EVM system. Advanced technical features and robust administrative safeguards are in place to rule out any possibility of manipulation. Standards include conducting everything in the presence of candidates or their agents,” the Returning Officer said.

The denial by Shinde, Waikar and the Returning Officer came after the Opposition alleged that there was a malpractice in the counting of votes in Mumbai North West constituency.

Waikar defeated Kirtikar by just 48 votes.

Waikar’s brother-in-law has been accused of taking a mobile phone to the counting centre.

–IANS

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We all will work for the nation, says Rijiju says after meeting Kharge

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday met Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge for discussions ahead of the coming session of Parliament and asserted that all will work for the betterment of the country.

The first session of the 18th Lok Sabha is scheduled to commence on June 24 and will go on till July 3. The oath-taking ceremony of new MPs and the election of the Speaker will be held during the session.

Rijiju, in his social media post, said that he had a “pleasant” meeting with the opposition leader, who shared many experiences of his own life.

“I had a pleasant courtesy meeting with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress Party President Shri Mallikarjun Kharge ji. He shared with me about many valuable experiences of his life. Together, we all will work for the nation,” he said on X.

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Rijiju, a BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh, was made a Cabinet Minister in the third consecutive NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in charge of Parliamentary Affairs and Minority Affairs. While he earlier served as the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Minority Affairs and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Sports and Youth Affairs, he was made the Law Minister in 2021 and later shifted to the Earth Sciences and Food Processing Industries Ministries.

–IANS

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Eknath Shinde tells party cadres to start preparations for Maha Assembly polls

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Mumbai, June 16 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena supremo Eknath Shinde on Sunday told the party leaders, ministers, MPs, MLAs and office bearers to start preparations for the upcoming Assembly elections.

Eknath Shinde also stressed on launching the membership drive and focussing on updating the electoral rolls.

The Maharashtra CM, who reviewed the preparations for the Shiv Sena’s 58th anniversary on June 19, said that the party has retained its strongholds including Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar, Konkan, Thane and Palghar.

“… and now, the time is to further consolidate Shiv Sena’s position in the rest of Maharashtra,” he said.

The Chief Minister also said that the party’s anniversary would be celebrated in a “big way”.

Eknath Shinde congratulated all his colleagues for the success of the party in the recently held Lok Sabha elections but asked them to correct the mistakes made in the general elections and to prepare more efficiently for the upcoming assembly elections.

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He said even as people are supporting the Shiv Sena, the party leaders and workers will have to work more vigorously to change the wrong narrative set by the opposition about the change in the Constitution.

Eknath Shinde said all efforts will be made during the assembly elections so that the opposition would not repeat wrong narratives.

He said that all Hindu festivals like Dahihandi, Ganapati, Dussehra, Diwali should be celebrated with much enthusiasm including Ashadhi Wari of Pandharpur.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra CM announced that the government will implement a tree plantation campaign in every district to tackle climate change.

He directed all district collectors to plant one lakh trees in each district. In addition, he added that the Shiv Sena will also conduct a similar campaign across the state.

–IANS

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