United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
| Photo Credit: AP

A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the world body “hopes” that in India and any country that is having elections, people’s “political and civil rights” are “protected” and everyone is able to vote in a “free and fair” atmosphere.

Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric made these remarks on March 28 while he was responding to a question on the “political unrest” in India ahead of the upcoming national elections in the wake of the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the freezing of the opposition Congress Party’s bank accounts.

“What we very much hope that in India, as in any country that is having elections, that everyone’s rights are protected, including political and civil rights, and everyone is able to vote in an atmosphere that is free and fair,” Mr. Dujarric said at the daily press briefing on March 28.

The response from the United Nations comes a day after the U.S. also reacted to a similar question on Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest and freezing of the Congress party’s bank accounts.

On March 27, hours after India summoned a senior U.S. diplomat to protest remarks on Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest, Washington reiterated that it encourages fair, transparent, timely legal processes.

On the U.S. diplomat being summoned in Delhi, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said “I’m not going to talk about any private diplomatic conversations. But of course what we have said publicly is what I just said from here, that we encourage fair, transparent, timely legal processes. We don’t think anyone should object to that, and we’ll make the same thing clear privately.” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials summoned Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Gloria Berbena to their office in South Block in the Indian capital. The meeting lasted for more than 30 minutes.

On March 28, India said the U.S. State Department’s recent remarks on the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are “unwarranted” and asserted the country is “proud of its independent and robust democratic institutions” and committed to protecting them from any form of undue external influences.

Any “external imputation” on India’s electoral and legal processes is “completely unacceptable”, MEA Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in New Delhi during his weekly press briefing.

In India, legal processes are driven “only by the rule of law”, Mr. Jaiswal said on March 28.

Earlier on March 27, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said in a statement that India took strong objection to the remarks of the Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department about certain legal proceedings in India.

“India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. Casting aspersions on that is unwarranted,” the MEA had said. The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Kejriwal in a money laundering case linked to the excise policy ‘scam’.

The case pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in formulating and executing the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 which was later scrapped.


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