Supreme Court grants interim bail to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal till 1 June

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said Kejriwal would have to surrender and go back to jail on 2 June.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 10, 2024 | 3:52 PMUpdatedMay 10, 2024 | 3:53 PM

AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (Supplied)

The Supreme Court on Friday, 10 May, granted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal interim bail until 1 June, the final phase of voting for the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections, for campaigning.

The Enforcement Directorate arrested the Aam Aadmi Party leader on 21 March in the alleged Delhi liquor excise policy scam.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said Kejriwal would have to surrender and go back to jail on 2 June.

The bench refused the request of senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, that the interim bail be granted till 5 June — a day after the votes are counted on 4 June.

The apex court is hearing Kejriwal’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s last month verdict upholding his arrest in the case.

On 9 April, the Delhi High Court upheld Kejriwal’s arrest, saying there was no illegality and that the ED was left with “little option” after he skipped repeated summonses and refused to join the investigation.

The matter relates to alleged corruption and money laundering in the formulation and execution of the Delhi government’s now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22.

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The arguments

The Supreme Court, while granting interim bail to Kejriwal, said that he was arrested by the probe agency in March and the arrest could have been made before.

Replying to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the ED, who opposed the bail, saying no precedents of granting bail on the grounds of electioneering are available, the Supreme Court said, “Now, 21 days here and there will not make any difference. On 2 June, Arvind Kejriwal will surrender.”

As reported by LiveLaw, the bench had observed that it was dealing with the case of an elected Chief Minister, not a habitual offender, and the general elections take place only once in five years. It, however, made clear that on interim release, Kejriwal would not be allowed to perform official duties, as that would have a cascading effect.

The court told ED, “He (Kejriwal) was out there for one-and-a-half years. He could have been arrested earlier or after, but no such thing happened,” the bench told ED.

Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta submitted that Amrit Pal Singh, accused in a UAPA case over Khalistani activities, has also approached the Court for bail to contest in elections. SG stated that a grant of bail to Kejriwal on the grounds of elections would create a cascading effect.

Replying to the SG, Justice Khanna said, “That(Amrit Pal Sigh case) is something different.”

“Let us not put in a straightjacket like that. We are passing an order giving him interim relief till June 1, 2024..we will upload the order by evening,” Justice Khanna said.

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Bail conditions

The law officers urged the court to impose bail conditions, including that Kejriwal would not say anything regarding the excise policy case.

The bench said the conditions will be similar to those imposed on AAP leader Sanjay Singh, who was given bail last month in connection with the case.

According to lawyer Shadan Farasat, who appeared for Kejriwal, the court pronounced a very short oral order.

“We have not yet seen the written order. So, we don’t know the exact contents of the written order. The court said they are releasing Kejriwal on an interim release/bail until 2 June, and there are no conditions on what he can say and what he cannot say during the campaigning process while he is out in these 20-22 days,” he said.

“We are hoping that this order is uploaded today, and then we will update the appropriate procedure for his release,” Farasat added.

The Bench stated that the detailed order would be uploaded by Friday evening.

The bench said arguments on Kejriwal’s plea against the arrest will continue next week and it will try to pronounce the judgement on the petition before the summer vacations starting 20 May.

(With PTI inputs)