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'Time used for purposes other than legal interviews': Delhi court dismisses CM Kejriwal's plea seeking more time with lawyer

Darpan News Desk IANS, 10 Apr, 2024 12:30 PM
  • 'Time used for purposes other than legal interviews': Delhi court dismisses CM Kejriwal's plea seeking more time with lawyer

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) A Delhi court on Wednesday dismissed the plea of incarcerated Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking permission to spend more time with his legal counsel to prepare for the cases pending against him in several parts of the country, noting that he has used the allotted time for purposes other than legal discussions.

Special Judge Kaveri Baweja of Rouse Avenue Court held that Kejriwal is not even utilising the permitted two legal interviews per week with his counsel solely for discussing his pending litigations and has rather used the allotted time for purposes other than legal interviews.

She dismissed the plea, observing that Kejriwal failed to satisfy this court that he has been using the two permitted legal meetings per week solely for the purpose of discussing the pending litigation with his counsel.

"The status report/note filed by the investigating agency indicates that the Applicant (Kejriwal) 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,” the court noted.

The court was also unable to accept the arguments of Kejriwal that he is entitled to additional meetings with his lawyers on the ground of parity as co-accused Sanjay Singh.

"The rule of parity finds its genesis in Article 14 of the Constitution of India which envisages equality before the law and equal protection of the laws to all," it noted.

During the hearing, Special Counsel Zoheb Hossain for the Enforcement Directorate (ED) took objection to the plea saying that the applicant is seeking legal meetings five times a week, which is clearly against the jail manual.

According to the manual, only one legal meeting is allowed in a week, and in special circumstances, two meetings may be allowed. CM Kejriwal is already getting two legal meetings.

"If someone chooses to run the government from jail, you cannot be treated exceptionally," the ED argued.

The court noted: "Learned counsel for ED further relied upon Delhi Jail Manual containing the Delhi Prisons (Prisoners Welfare Fund, Appeals Petitions Interviews and Communication) Rules, 1988 also prescribes two visits a week by the legal advisers under Rule 41."

In the application filed on April 4, the Chief Minister had claimed that two weekly meetings with his lawyer, as permitted by the court, were insufficient as he faced multiple cases in various states and needed more time for consultations, and urged the court to increase the number of meetings to five per week.

CM Kejriwal's counsel had stressed the multitude of pending cases and argued that the allocated one hour per week for legal consultations was inadequate for understanding and providing instructions.

He had also pointed out that Sanjay Singh, another accused, recently granted bail by a trial court on the Supreme Court's instructions, was granted three meetings despite facing fewer cases.

The ED, had, however, contested the request, arguing against special privileges being extended to him solely based on his desire to govern from within the jail. Citing violations of the jail manual, it had opposed CM Kejriwal's request for five weekly meetings with his lawyer, saying that he already enjoyed the privilege of two meetings per week, which deviates from the standard practice of one. It was said that despite CM Kejriwal's status outside the prison, he must be treated equally within it, without exceptions or special privileges.

The agency also accused CM Kejriwal of misusing legal interviews for purposes beyond consultation, raising concerns about his governance directives issued from behind bars.

As CM Kejriwal's counsel had argued over the unequal treatment of individuals and the need to balance their rights, the ED maintained that under valid judicial custody, certain rights are curtailed per jail manuals, rejecting the notion of absolute rights for individuals in custody.

The ED arrested CM Kejriwal on March 21 after questioning him for over two hours at his official residence in Delhi. It has termed the Chief Minister the "kingpin and the key conspirator" of the alleged excise scam in collusion with other ministers of the Delhi government, AAP leaders, and other persons.

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