DC Edit | Kejriwal: As world reacts, futile for govt to get irked

India is angry with its fellow democracies that expressed their concern over the treatment being meted out to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. It has demanded that they be “respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs” of other nations. India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes, India stated on Wednesday, after having lodged its protests summoning diplomats of the US and Germany.

The Indian outbursts are an outcome of the remarks of the two friendly nations who wanted “fair, transparent, and timely legal process” in the investigation against the Delhi CM. He has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the Delhi excise policy scam. Germany was more specific, saying it expected that “the standards relating to independence of judiciary and basic democratic principles will be applied in this case” and that “the presumption of innocence is a central element of the rule of law and must apply to him”.

While India has every reason to present its opinion about our legal process, the criticism that is being raised against the government by the Opposition here is that laws are abused and misused and the judiciary dragged to a blind spot while pursuing cases against Opposition politicians.

The undeniable fact is that, with hardly a month to go before the Lok Sabha elections, the bank accounts of the Congress, the principal Opposition party, have been virtually frozen, crippling its election campaign. Two senior politicians, a chief minister and another who was forced to resign as chief minister, are under arrest under a draconian law which doesn’t acknowledge the dictum “bail is the rule, jail is the exception”. Worse, the officials, while effecting arrests under the law, discount with impunity the constraints imposed on them before curtailing a person’s liberty.

Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, authorises an officer of a certain rank to arrest a person “on the basis of material in his possession”, making it eminently clear that the arrest has to be made on material evidence. However, that does not appear to be the case in which Opposition leaders are apprehended.

The ED requesting the court to grant it three weeks to reply to Mr Kejriwal’s demand that he be released immediately would trigger the question on the ED’s possession of “material evidence”. The Supreme Court had told the same agency in the same case a few months ago that it had no evidence against another Opposition leader, Manish Sisodia, except for the statements of approvers which, they said, will not stand legal scrutiny. The agency makes a travesty of the law when it insists that the court follow the stringent conditions on bail while it makes light of the conditions on arrest.

We typically reduce every legal safeguard the law provides to citizens to a farce and then frown at people who raise concerns about this. India must acknowledge the fact that it is normal for fellow democracies to keep a watch on other democracies. It is worthwhile to note that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had condemned the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. India should rather put its house in order and then draw limits on free speech for the rest of the world.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
Next Story