'Encourage Fair, Transparent Legal Process': US On Arvind Kejriwal Arrest

New Delhi:

The United States government is monitoring reports of Arvind Kejriwal‘s arrest and has encouraged its Indian counterpart to ensure “a fair, transparent, and timely legal process” for the jailed Delhi Chief Minister and opposition leader, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters this week.

The US’ response comes days after Germany’s Foreign Office stressed that the Aam Aadmi Party leader, like any other Indian citizen facing charges, is entitled to a fair and impartial trial.

“We assume and expect that standards relating to independence of judiciary and basic democratic principles will also be applied in this case,” a German government spokesperson said Friday.

READ | “Blatant Interference”: India Protests Germany’s Remarks On Kejriwal

The Indian government reacted strongly to the comment, summoning the German envoy and labelling the Foreign Office spokesperson’s remark “blatant interference in internal matters”.

“We see such remarks as interfering in our judicial process and undermining the independence of our judiciary,” the External Affairs Ministry said, “Biased assumptions are most unwarranted.”

Asked about India’s protest to Germany, the State Department spokesperson told Reuters, “We refer you to the German Foreign Ministry for comment on their discussions with the Indian government.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has not yet reacted to the US State Department.

READ | Kejriwal Sent To 7-Day Probe Agency Custody In Liquor Policy Case

The Enforcement Directorate took Mr Kejriwal into custody last week – in dramatic circumstances after a Delhi court refused protection from arrest – following a late-night raid at his residence.

He was sent to custody of the central agency for seven days; i.e., till Thursday.

Mr Kejriwal was arrested in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam that has roiled the AAP, and the national political landscape, less than a month before the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

READ | “No Level-Playing Field For Us”: Opposition On Kejriwal’s Arrest

The Chief Minister’s arrest has triggered furious protests in Delhi, with the AAP joined by opposition parties, including INDIA bloc allies Congress, the Trinamool of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, in condemning the agency’s action.

In Delhi on Tuesday several AAP workers were detained by police as they attempted to march on the PM’s home. The BJP, meanwhile, took out a mega march of its own to press for Mr Kejriwal to quit.

READ | AAP Protests Seeking Kejriwal’s Release, BJP Wants His Resignation

The BJP – accused by the opposition of using central investigative agencies like the ED to target and harass rivals, particularly before an election – has demanded Mr Kejriwal resign, and has called out apparent instances this week and last of the AAP leader running the government from jail.

The BJP has also dismissed claims that it uses central agencies as described by the opposition.

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