Can Kejriwal run Delhi govt from Tihar? Prison manual says otherwise

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal (File Photo: IANS/@AamAadmiParty)

New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) Can Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is presently in judicial custody in Tihar Jail in connection with the excise policy case, run the government from prison?

As per the prison manual, an under-trial prisoner is only allowed to write letters to his/her family members, relatives, close friends, and counsels from inside the jail.

A senior prison official said that Kejriwal, or any other inmate under judicial custody, is permitted to sign only two categories of documents, which cannot have any political implications and are restricted to legal documents related to property matters.

The official’s statement followed assertions by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, claiming that the Chief Minister will continue in his role in government affairs while incarcerated.

The AAP has also indicated that starting next week, the Chief Minister plans to conduct weekly reviews with two ministers in the prison to assess the progress being made in their respective departments.

However, the jail manual says that an MLA can communicate only with the Speaker of the House from the prison.

“All communications addressed by a prisoner, who is a member of the state Assembly or the Parliament, to the Speaker or Chairman of the House of which he is a member, or to the Chairman of the Committee (including the Committee on Privileges) of such a House, or of a Joint Committee of both Houses of the state legislature or the Parliament, shall be immediately forwarded by the Superintendent of Prison to the government to deal with it in accordance with the rights and privileges of the prisoner as a Member of the House to which he belongs,” read Rule No. 628 of the 2018 prison manual.

It added that prisoners may be allowed to write letters only to their family members, relatives, and close friends, or legal counsels.

“Prisoners should also be allowed to correspond with the counsels handling their cases. In case it is found that the prisoner is corresponding with undesirable persons or receiving letters from them or if any correspondence is found detrimental to the prisoner’s rehabilitation, such letters, both incoming and outgoing, shall be withheld.

“Prisoners should be informed of such action without divulging the contents of the letters received. If necessary, they may also be warned in this regard,” read the prison rule.

Till now, Kejriwal has sent messages to AAP MLAs, leaders, and workers through his wife Sunita Kejriwal since he was sent to judicial custody in the excise policy case on April 1.

During his Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody, Kejriwal, who was arrested on March 21, had issued two directions to his council of ministers.

Kejriwal is lodged at Jail No. 2 in Tihar.

He had earlier provided a list of six names, including Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, his family members, and friends, who he wanted to communicate with from the prison.

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