Bar Council requests lawyers to refrain from protesting against Kejiwal’s arrest

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in ED custody.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in ED custody.

New Delhi | The Bar Council of India (BCI) has issued a statement requesting the lawyers to refrain from any protest against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's arrest until he is declared innocent.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s legal cell had called for a protest by lawyers across all district courts against Kejriwal’s arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

"Let us uphold the integrity and dignity of our noble profession, refraining from any movement until a competent court unequivocally establishes Arvind Kejriwal's innocence or declares his arrest unjust or unlawful," the statement issued by BCI president Manan Kumar Mishra said.

Underlining that there was "no apparent basis for a lawyers' agitation", it said some individuals associated with the AAP had "questionable backgrounds", which raised doubts about "the integrity of their motives".

"It is pertinent to note instances such as the revelation of fake degrees and corruption charges against members of the AAP, including Arvind Kejriwal himself,” the statement dated March 26 said.

"Given the investigation into the educational qualifications of Jitender Singh Tomar, who was appointed as the first law minister by the AAP, and whose degree was proven to be fake, it would be unwise for the legal community to align with such dubious figures," it added.

The release issued by the top lawyer's body said while Kejriwal was arrested on corruption charges, Sanjeev Nasiar, the convener of the legal cell, was under investigation by the BCI over his law degree.

"I earnestly appeal to my esteemed colleagues in the legal fraternity of Delhi to resist the temptation of engaging in unwarranted agitation or succumbing to divisive politics," Mishra said in the statement.

The BCI communication said that historically, lawyers' movements had been rooted in just causes, such as defending freedom, upholding the Constitution and safeguarding the judiciary or democracy.

"However, in the current scenario, where the court concerned has already validated Kejriwal's arrest, and the Delhi High Court has also refused to interfere in the matter, the situation appears to be grave, indicative of corruption," it said, cautioning the lawyers against any "premature involvement" in this matter.

Meanwhile, a few lawyers protested peacefully outside the district court complexes across Patiala House, Tis Hazari, Saket and Karkardooma district courts. They held cutouts of Kejriwal with the slogan 'Lawyers for Kejriwal' and 'Lawyers love Kejriwal'.

The court sources said the protest was not held near Rohini and Dwarka courts.

Advocate Sanjeev Nasiar, who is also the vice chairman of the Delhi Bar Council, however, said the protest by the lawyers was impactive.

Reacting to the BCI’s communication, Nasiar said he did not want to go into the details but it appeared from the letter that BCI believed that the protesting lawyers wanted to thwart proceedings inside the courts.

"We did not stop lawyers, litigants or judicial officers. We had organised peaceful protests outside the court premises against the illegal arrest of the chief minister. We did not intend to disrupt the court proceedings or the dispensation of justice in any manner, whatsoever," he said.

Security was, however, beefed up across all district court complexes to prevent protesting lawyers from entering the premises.

Speaking to reporters outside the Patiala House district court, Rajneesh Bhaskar Gupta, president of AAP legal cell said it is the duty of lawyers to protect the Constitution and protest against "dictatorial tendencies".

Near the Tis Hazari court, some of the protesting lawyers claimed that Kejriwal had provided financial support to the lawyers during the pandemic and that the chief minister was instrumental in providing health insurance policies to them.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Delhi High Court cautioned lawyers against staging protests on the court premises against the arrest, saying the consequences would be "severe".

Kejriwal likely to be produced before Delhi court on Thursday

New Delhi | Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is likely to be produced before a Delhi court on Thursday on the conclusion of his Enforcement Directorate custodial remand.

The federal probe agency had arrested Kejriwal last Thursday in connection with an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

The next day, Special Judge Kaveri Baweja remanded him in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) till March 28.

The court remanded Kejriwal in the ED custody for six days after the agency pressed for his custodial interrogation for 10 days.

The ED has accused the AAP leader of "being involved in the entire conspiracy of the Delhi liquor scam, in drafting and implementation of the policy, for favouring and benefiting the quid pro receiving kickbacks and eventually using part of the proceeds of crime generated out of the scheduled offence in the election campaign for the Goa Assembly elections".

"The accused (Kejriwal) is hereby remanded to the custody of the ED till March 28 for his detailed and sustained interrogation with respect to his role and to unearth the remaining proceeds of crime and for confronting him with data retrieved from digital devices and material seized during the investigation," the court had said on March 22.

The court also directed that Kejriwal be produced before it at 2 PM on March 28.

The agency can either seek an extension of the chief minister's custodial remand or seek court directions for sending him into judicial custody.

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