The Aam Aadmi party has announced that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal will be on a 3 day Gujarat tour between 6th to 8th January holding public rallies amid preparations for upcoming L.S. polls. This comes amidst the speculations of an ED raid and a likely arrest at Delhi CM’s residence on Thursday in connection to the ‘Delhi excise policy scam’ which was refuted by the Enforcement directorate.
In 2021, Delhi government introduced the Excise policy 2021-2022 to issue liquor licenses through open bidding, dividing the city into 32 zones. The policy aimed at boosting government revenues, eliminate black marketing, breaking the liquor mafia, and enhancing customer service. However, facing opposition from civil society, educational and religious institutions, the government withdrew the policy in July 2022. Following the withdrawal, the chief secretary accused AAP of irregularities, leading to a CBI probe as recommended by the Lieutenant governor V.K. Saxena which ultimately led to an FIR filed by CBI followed by questioning and his arrest in February 2023.
Now the sword hangs over the head of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who has been skipping summons by the Enforcement directorate. He has skipped three summons till now, and has sent a five-page reply to the latest summon issued on 3 Jan 2024.
Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren who is in a similar situation, was named in a land scam case has skipped 7 summons till now and faces a risk of arrest too.
The dark clouds of arrest are looming over both the leaders who call these summons as illegal and politically motivated.
Article 361 that grants legal immunity in both criminal and civil cases to the president and governors does not extend its protection to any other official.
An accused is not arrested until there is irrefutable evidence to prove their involvement. Arrests are made only if there is enough reason to believe that the accused may abscond or try to destroy evidence or act in a manner to avoid legal process.
Moreover, if an Assembly member or the Chief minister is to be arrested, the consent of the speaker is required and the Chief Minister can hold office while under investigation or in jail until and unless convicted.
This remains to be seen what will become of this saga with general elections just around the corner and heated political atmosphere, it might not culminate into arrests but will harm the image of these leaders and might even deal a harsh blow to their image leading to anti-incumbency in the upcoming polls.