Arvind Kejriwal can campaign for Lok Sabha polls; gets 21-day interim bail in Delhi excise policy case : The Tribune India

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Arvind Kejriwal can campaign for Lok Sabha polls; gets 21-day interim bail in Delhi excise policy case

A Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta orders Kejriwal to surrender on June 2 on the expiry of interim bail

Arvind Kejriwal can campaign for Lok Sabha polls; gets 21-day interim bail in Delhi excise policy case

Arvind Kejriwal after being released. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, May 10

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party national convenor Arvind Kejriwal can campaign in the ongoing Lok Sabha election as the Supreme Court on Friday granted him 21-day interim bail in a money-laundering case linked to the Delhi excise policy scam.

“Given the prodigious importance (of Lok Sabha election), we reject the argument raised on behalf of the prosecution (ED) that grant of interim bail/release on this account would be giving premium of placing the politicians in a benefic position compared to ordinary citizens of this country,” a Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta said.

The Bench -- which had on May 7 clearly hinted at releasing Kejriwal for a limited period in view of the Lok Sabha election -- barely took a few minutes to pronounce the order. It asked him to surrender on June 2, a day after the seventh and final phase of polling.

Senior counsel Manu Abhishek Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, urged the Bench to let the Delhi CM be out for a few more days as counting of votes would take place on June 4.  However, the Bench didn’t agree.

On behalf of the Enforcement Directorate, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta vehemently opposed the grant of interim bail to Kejriwal and cited the case of Amritpal Singh – who has been arrested under the National Security Act and has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking his release to contest the Lok Sabha election from Khadoor Sahib constituency.

“I could not find any precedent on a person being released for campaigning in election,” Mehta said.

“Let's not put it into a simple straightjacket like that,” Justice Khanna said and went on to pronounce the order.

Arrested on March 21, Kejriwal is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in the national capital. He has challenged the Delhi High Court’s April 9 verdict upholding his arrest in the case.

Kejriwal is the second senior AAP leader to come out of jail in excise policy ‘scam’-related cases. On April 2, the top court had granted bail to senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh – who was arrested by the ED on October 4, 2023 after the ED said it had no objection to his release on bail. However, the SC had clarified that the concession given to Singh will not be treated as a precedent.

While agreeing with the ED’s contention that Kejriwal had failed to appear in spite of nine summonses issued since October 2023, the Bench said in its detailed order that there were several other facets required to be considered.

“The appellant, Arvind Kejriwal, is the Chief Minister of Delhi and a leader of one of the national parties. No doubt, serious accusations have been made, but he has not been convicted. He does not have any criminal antecedents. He is not a threat to society.”

“It is no gainsaying that the general election is the most significant and an important event this year, as it should be in a national election year. Between 650 million-700 million voters out of an electorate of about 970 million will cast their vote to elect the government of this country for the next five years. General elections supply the vis viva to a democracy,” it noted.

“The fact situation cannot be compared with harvesting of crops or plea to look after business affairs…once the matter is sub-judice and the questions relating to legality of arrest are under consideration, a more holistic and libertarian view is justified, in the background that the 18th Lok Sabha general elections are being held,” it said.



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#Aam Aadmi Party AAP #Arvind Kejriwal #Lok Sabha #Supreme Court

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