Ashish Kumar Srivastava Vs Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors
Date of Order:
16th August 2022
Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad
Petitioner- Ashish Kumar Srivastava
Respondent- Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors
The Delhi High Court has ruled that based on the arguments presented in a public interest litigation petition, it cannot proclaim Delhi minister Satyendar Jain an individual of unsound mind and cannot disqualify him from serving as a Member of the Legislative Assembly or serving as a minister.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad acknowledged that cases had been filed against Jain and that he was facing criminal charges for various offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Prevention of Corruption Act, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). However, they cannot declare Jain a "person of unsound mind" based on the allegations in the petition.
Article 191(1)(b) of the Constitution of India- The article provides for the disqualification of a member of the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council of State if the person is declared to be of unsound mind by a competent court.
Article 226 of the Constitution of India- The section states that every High Court shall have the authority to issue directions, orders, or writs to any individual or authority, which includes, in appropriate circumstances, any Government, within the regions over which it has jurisdiction.
Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988- The section provides that any public servant who undertakes criminal misconduct is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not less than one year but not more than seven years, as well as a fine.
- The Court was addressing a PIL filed by All India Professional Congress’ Ashish Srivastava.
- The petitioner, who purported to be a social worker, filed this case as a Public Interest Litigation under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution, asserting that Respondent no. 5, Mr. Satyendra Jain, has been facing criminal prosecution for offences under Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1)(e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Section 109 of the Indian Penal Code.
Whether the respondent could be dismissed from the Legislative Assembly on the grounds of ‘unsoundness of mind’ as per Article 191(1)(b) of the Constitution?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE PETITIONER
- According to the petitioner, the respondent is a cabinet minister in the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the Enforcement Directorate has also opened one ECIR against him.
- The Petitioner submitted that the respondent was arrested and taken into the custody of the Enforcement Directorate.
- It was asserted that the respondent moved a bail application before the Special Judge, and during the arguments, the Additional Solicitor General noted that the Respondent had stated before the Enforcement Directorate office that following a severe case of COVID, he did not remember numerous things, such as signatures, and he additionally did not recall the name of the trust or organizations of which he is a member.
- The petitioner stated that the respondent had proclaimed that he has lost his memory by himself.
- The petitioner prayed for relief in the following ways:
- A Mandamus writ declaring the Respondent to be a person of unsound mind and disqualifying him from being a member of the Legislative Assembly and a Minister in the Government of NCT of Delhi.
- A writ of Mandamus addressing Respondent No. 2 to disqualify Respondent No. 5 from being a member of the Legislative Assembly.
- A Mandamus writ be imposed, directing Respondent No. 3 to convene a Medical Board to examine Respondent No. 5's mental state.
- A writ of Mandamus addressing Respondent No. 1 to declare all decisions made by Respondent No. 5 null and void after he suffered from Covid and thus lost his memory.
- It was further argued that the Delhi Government is clearly in violation of the provisions of Article 191(1)(b) of the Constitution that require an MLA to be disqualified if he is of unsound mind and has been declared as such by a competent court. 'Continuing an unsound individual with so many key Government portfolios is defrauding the voters of Delhi, who elected a person with a good image and a positive mental state.
- The counsel argued that the respondent holds an important position in the government, and the general populace of Delhi will suffer greatly as a result of his unsound mind.
- The court noted that it is true that cases have been filed against the respondent, and he is facing prosecution for a variety of offences under the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. However, the fact of the matter remains that the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure is a complete code in and of itself, providing a mechanism for investigation, inquiry, and trial. The Code of Criminal Procedure covers all eventualities, and it is up to the prosecutors to take the necessary steps in compliance with the law.
- It was held that based on the averments in the Writ Petition, the bench was unable to declare respondent No.5 a person of unsound mind and cannot disqualify him from serving as a member of the Legislative Assembly or a Minister in the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi in the facts and the case's circumstances.
The writ petition was thereby dismissed. While the Court could not order Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to remove the Respondent from his cabinet, it expressed optimism that the CM would uphold the trust placed in him by the electorate when appointing ministers.
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