Very rarely the courts in India have stood witness to political stunts of this nature as the one unfolded at Patiala House Courts on Wednesday where Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal refused to follow the judicial procedure and invited two-day jail. True to the party’s character, scores of AAP leaders and workers resorted to a protest outside Tihar Jail as soon as Kejriwal was arrested forcing the police to impose Section 144 in the area.
Following his arrest, over 200 AAP supporters gathered outside the Tihar Jail forcing the police use mild force to evacuate them. The situation turned chaotic after his party workers clashed with police there in the evening. Senior AAP leaders Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh, Yogendra Yadav, Rakhi Birla, Jarnail Singh and others joined their supporters to denounce the police act and went on to question the rationale of court’s order.
Meanwhile, around 50 protesters — including Sisodia, Singh, Yadav, Birla and Jarnail Singh — were detained by the West district police. “The protesters were detained under Sections 347 (constraint to illegal act), 348 (wrongful confinement to extort confession), 349 (use of force if another causes motion), 186 (obstructing public servant), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 352 (punishment for assault) of the IPC. They will be produced before court on Thursday,” said a senior police official.
The AAP protest on Tilak Nagar to Delhi Cantt road on both the carriageways resulted in traffic snarls as the space was blocked. As the reports of traffic jam spread, Delhi Police sent reinforcement to evacuate the protesters.
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal was arrested and sent to Tihar Jail till May 23 by the court after he refused to furnish bail bond in a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari. “Take him into custody,” Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha ordered after the AAP leader repeatedly refused to furnish a personal bail bond of Rs 10,000 and a surety of like amount. Furious over his repeated refusals, the court ordered his arrest as it turned down Kejriwal’s oral submissions and assurances, which is considered unknown to the law. The court, in its order, noted that this was not a case where the accused is unable to furnish bail bond due to financial inability.
“The accused is just adamant to not furnish bail bond or even a personal bond for his appearance before the court,” it said. Kejriwal was summoned as an accused by the court in the defamation complaint in which Gadkari had alleged that he was defamed by the AAP leader, who had included his name in the party’s list of “India’s most corrupt”. After the court pronounced its order, Kejriwal was taken into lock up inside the court premises amid tight security and later taken to Tihar Jail.
The magistrate, in her three-page order, also observed that the procedure of courts cannot be “thrown to the winds” at the whims and fancies of the litigants. “The court cannot act as a mute spectator when a particular litigant intentionally seeks to violate the procedure established by law. This case cannot be dealt with any differently than any other criminal cases where the courts insist on furnishing bail bond/personal bond to secure the presence of the accused persons. The accused in the present case cannot seek differential treatment to be let off only on an oral undertaking in violation/divergence to the settled practice/procedure regarding bail,” the court said.
During the argument, the court asked if the AAP leader was looking for “some exceptional treatment”. The magistrate observed, “I completely agree but why he (Kejriwal) will not furnish bail bond. What is the problem? There is a procedure and why should we follow different procedure in this case. I agree he will appear in the court but the procedure is that a person has to file bail bond. Are you looking for some exceptional treatment?”
To this, Kejriwal argued that he has not committed any heinous crime and added that he was not looking for any exceptional treatment. “This is my principle that when I have not done anything wrong, I will not seek bail. I am ready to go to jail,” he said. Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Rahul Mehra, who appeared for Kejriwal, told the magistrate that these cases are of political nature and as per the principle of AAP, they will not furnish bail bond.
Senior advocate Pinki Anand, who appeared for Gadkari, opposed the contentions of defence counsel, saying there was no procedure in law to furnish undertaking and law should not vary for anyone. During the day’s proceedings, the court also allowed the application of Gadkari’s counsel seeking exemption from personal appearance for today on behalf of the BJP leader.
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