Countering the Supreme Court which had raised questions about the propriety of his protest demanding action against Delhi Police officers, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Saturday said the constitution does not prevent him from staging dharnas and he would continue to take to the streets if necessary.
Kejriwal’s combative comments came at his Republic Day address to school students at the Chhatrasal stadium, a day after the apex court stressed that every individual holding a constitutional post is also governed by the constitution and put Kejriwal and his cabinet on notice for sitting in protest outside the Rail Bhawan earlier this week in violation of prohibitory orders.
The court had also slammed the Delhi Police for not enforcing the prohibitory orders and allowing supporters of the chief minister to gather at the site of his protest.
“I have read the constitution many times. When I was called unconstitutional, I read the constitution again and nowhere have I found that a chief minister cannot hold a dharna. Nowhere is it written in the constitution that I cannot protest peacefully for the people,” Kejriwal said.
He said those who acted against him were the ones violating the constitution.
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“Those who imposed Section 144 at Rail Bhawan were not abiding by the constitution. Whenever rape is committed, that is against the constitution,” the CM said. “I will work from the secretariat, but if I need to take to the streets, I will do that also. Today, people are misusing the constitution.”
“If the constitution is followed in letter and spirit for just five days by politicians then the country would not be in such a pathetic state,” Kejriwal said. Kejriwal targeted the judiciary too as he listed the rights given by the constitution.
“The first one is right to equality before the law but this is not happening. The rich get more justice than the poor and the poor do not have the means to approach the Supreme Court,” he said.
The second, he said, is the right to life.
“There are 16,000 rape cases registered in Delhi. These victims too had the right to live. Women are unsafe in the city. Parents remain worried about their daughters when they go to college,” Kejriwal said.
Third, he said, is right to protest peacefully.
Maintaining that women are unsafe in the city and their security is “highly compromised”, Kejriwal said his government has formed a committee under the chief secretary.
The committee called’ Mahila Suraksha Dal’ will include retired Army personnel and home guards. He also said that it may not have powers like the police but the force will work like security guards stationed outside buildings.
“We will ensure that rapists will go to jail within three to six months,” Kejriwal said.
The CM also attacked the police for “corruption”.
“I could have asked for a big bungalow, car and I could have called the police officer to my home and asked for a ‘monthly’ of Rs 10 lakh from each police station,” he said.
“On rape, I too could have said that the police is working on the case. I would then be a good CM. I need to know what was the beat constable and SHO of the area doing when the Danish woman was raped? Our fight is for implementation of the constitution. It is our second fight for freedom.”
Kejriwal, who handed over a reward of Rs 1crore to the widow of a Delhi Police constable allegedly murdered by the liquor mafia, said his government would reward policemen with cash prizes for doing a good job and punish those who fail in their duties.
Kejriwal also claimed that his one-month-old government had brought down corruption in Delhi.
“My car stopped at a red light and auto drivers told me that the police has stopped demanding money from them. A tea vendor has reduced the price from Rs 8 to Rs 6 per glass of tea. He says he does not have to give money to the police now. Anti-corruption cell officers told me that their traps are failing for the past three days as officers are refusing bribes. The Janlokpal Bill will send corrupt people to jail. But our intention is not to send officers to jail but to create a fear in them against bribes,” he said.