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Arresting the Chief Ministers

Arresting the Chief Ministers

Why in news: –

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was recently arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an excise policy case linked money laundering case.

  • A chief minister is permitted certain privileges within prison, such as making official phone calls and accessing crucial documents.
  • Representation of People’s Act, 1951– It outlines disqualification provisions for certain offences, but a conviction is a prerequisite for anyone holding the office.
  • Disqualification – The Act says that a person convicted for an offence and sentenced to 2 years or above shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction.
  • Electoral disqualification- It says the lawmaker shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of 6 years after his release.
  • Article 361 – President and Governor enjoy constitutional immunity from civil and criminal proceedings until the completion of their term.
  • This immunity does not extend to Prime Ministers or Chief Ministers, as they are regarded as equals under the Constitution’s principle of the Right to Equality before the law.
  • Despite this, they are not automatically disqualified solely by virtue of an arrest.
  • Delhi framework – Delhi is a Union Territory not a State, it operates under a unique constitutional framework outlined in Articles 239 AA and 239 AB of the Indian Constitution.
  • Article 239 AB – The Lieutenant Governor can seek Presidential intervention potentially leading to the imposition of President’s rule.
  • S. Ramachandran versus vs Senthil Balaji – The Madras High Court delved into the ethical and moral considerations surrounding a minister’s right to hold office who is accused in ‘cash for jobs scam’.
  • The Court referred Manoj Narula vs Union of India case 2014, which had held that the basic norm for holding a public office was constitutional morality, good governance and constitutional trust.
  • The Madras High Court had agreed that citizens expect, and “legitimately so”, that persons in power had high standards of moral conduct. It had described the role of a Chief Minister as “the repository of the people’s faith”.

Source: – The Hindu, Indian Express

Read also: Understanding Custody in Legal Context: Police Custody vs. Judicial Custody

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