The Delhi High Court has said that in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226, it cannot declare Delhi minister and AAP MLA Satyendar Kumar Jain – who is in judicial custody in a money laundering case – as “a person with unsound mind” or disqualify him from the Assembly, in an order made public on Saturday.
The division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad, in the judgment, noted that Jain is facing prosecution for various offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Prevention of Corruption Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). “However, the fact remains that the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is a complete code in itself which provides a mechanism in respect of investigation, inquiry and trial. The Code of Criminal Procedure caters to all contingencies and it is for the prosecution/ court to take appropriate steps in accordance with the law,” said the court in its order dated August 16.
The court had on August 16 heard the petition stating that Jain had told the ED officers during questioning that he lost his memory on account of Covid-19. “We will pass appropriate orders,” the court had said then while reserving its order. The petition has now been dismissed.
The petitioner Ashish Kumar Srivastava, who said he is a social worker, had also prayed for setting up a medical board to analyse Jain’s medical condition and for declaring all the decisions he took since suffering from Covid as null and void.
“One of the Cabinet ministers in Delhi government Mr Satyendra Kumar Jain, also the member of Legislative Assembly from Shakur Basti Assembly constituency, himself declared that he lost his memory before the Officers of Enforcement Directorate and the same has also been informed to the Special Judge Rouse Avenue District Court, New Delhi by the Additional Solicitor General. But unfortunately, he is still continuing the important Cabinet minister portfolio in Delhi government and still enjoying the post of Member of Legislative Assembly of Delhi Assembly,” said the petition.
Citing Article 191(1)(b) of the Constitution of India and stating that the provision provides for disqualification of a state lawmaker who is of unsound mind, the petition further said that the news of Jain “losing the memory” has been covered by all the media sources and his continuing “with so many important portfolios of the government is cheating with the voters of Delhi”.
On another petition seeking suspension of Satyendar Jain, who has been in custody since May 30, from the state Cabinet, the bench headed by Chief Justice last month said that it is for the Chief Minister to act in the best interest of the state and consider whether a person who has been charged with offences involving moral turpitude should be allowed to continue as a minister.
Observing that while it is not for the court to issue directions to the chief minister in this regard, the division bench had said that, however, it is the duty of the court to remind the “key duty holders” about their role with regard to upholding the tenets of the Constitution. “The chief minister exercises his/her discretion in choosing the Members of Cabinet and to formulate a policy pertaining to appointment of Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers has a collective responsibility to sustain and uphold the integrity of the Constitution of India,” said the court on July 27.
It further said, “and it is for the Chief Minister to act in the best interest of the state and consider as to whether a person who has criminal background and/or has been charged with offences involving moral turpitude should be appointed and should be allowed to continue as a minister or not.”