Tue, 21 May 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

In big relief for Kejriwal, interim bail granted till June 1

Update : 10 May 2024, 15:41

In a major relief, the Supreme Court has given Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal interim bail till June 1, the final phase of voting for the seven-stage 2024 Lok Sabha election. The Aam Aadmi Party leader - arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21 in the alleged Delhi liquor excise policy scam - must surrender to the prison authorities by June 2.

The court also said other bail conditions would be similar to those imposed on AAP leader Sanjay Singh, when he was given interim relief by the top court. Mr Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP arrested in October last year in the same case, received bail after six months in jail. 

Most significantly, he was allowed to participate in political activities, meaning he could campaign for the party, which is what Mr Kejriwal is now also expected to be able to do.

Appearing for the AAP boss, who had originally approached the Supreme Court to challenge his arrest by the ED, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi sought interim bail till June 4, when the election result will be declared. This, though, was refused, with the court saying campaigning for the seventh and final stage would have stopped 48 hours prior to voting.

Mr Kejriwal's legal team had made a strong pitch for the Delhi Chief Minister to be released on interim bail to allow him to campaign for his AAP, and the INDIA opposition bloc, before the election for Delhi's seven Lok Sabha seats - all held by the BJP - on May 25.

On Thursday the ED, which had strongly opposed grant of bail to Mr Kejriwal, filed an affidavit outlining its objections. The central agency - which has been criticised for operating at the behest of the ruling BJP to target and harass its political rivals before the election - said no politician could claim "special status" higher than that of an ordinary citizen, and is as liable to be arrested and detained for committing offences as any other citizen. 

There is no "fundamental" right that will allow Arvind Kejriwal the right to claim bail to campaign for the election, the ED argued. The agency also pointed out that no political leader had ever been granted bail for campaigning and said that releasing Mr Kejriwal from jail to canvas for his party candidates would set a wrong precedent.

In Tuesday's hearing, the court had recognised Mr Kejriwal as the elected Chief Minister of Delhi and not a habitual offender. "There are elections... these are extraordinary circumstances and he is not a habitual offender," the bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta had said.

The court had earlier said it would consider the question of bail for Mr Kejriwal not on grounds of his political profession, but purely on possible exceptional circumstances that warrant the temporary release of the AAP leader. 

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