July 7, 2022 6:52:58 pm
The Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed a petition seeking suspension of Delhi minister Satyendar Jain from the cabinet since he has been in custody in a money laundering case since May 30.
“We know our limitations. We have to obey the statutes, rules and notifications. We cannot travel beyond that,” said the division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad during the hearing.
The counsel representing petitioner Dr Nand Kishore Garg, a former BJP MLA, at the outset of the hearing submitted that there is a constitutional vacuum when it comes to such a situation, and there is no law which prescribes suspension of a minister.
Garg in the petition said Jain has neither resigned as a minister nor has been removed by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party. “Health minister Satyendra Jain continues to be a minister without any portfolio even after such serious allegations of money laundering and presently being in the custody of the investigating agency since 30.05.2022,” he said in the plea filed through advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi.
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Sudhi cited various Supreme Court judgments including the case of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. However, he conceded that there is no rule for suspension of a minister once he is taken into custody. “We have to protect democracy,” he submitted.
The court said people have the right to elect, and the elected make the laws. It also reiterated that there are limitations on what a court can do. With Sudhi continuing with his submissions, the court said that he was repeating the same thing and warned to impose costs on him.
Alleging that Jain is continuing to enjoy the perks and privileges of a minister despite being in custody, Garg in the petition said that such a scenario is contrary to the provision of law applicable to the public servant who is deemed suspended immediately after the custody of more than 48 hours as per Rule 10 of the Central Civil Services Rules.
Besides seeking a direction from the Lieutenant Governor for Jain’s suspension, the petition also prayed for the issuance of guidelines for resignation or suspension of ministers if they remain in custody for a period beyond 48 hours, as is followed in case of a civil servant under the central rules.
“The preferential treatment for minister under custody strikes to Article 14 of the Constitution, and several judicial pronouncements including the Constitutional bench judgment where Hon’ble Supreme Court had clearly held that the Hon’ble Prime Minister or Chief Minister have immense discretionary power to uphold the rule of law and the individual having a criminal record should (not) be made minister under in the interest of the public at large,” the petition said.
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