Supreme Court’s Verdict On Arvind Kejriwal’s Bail Likely Today

The Supreme Court is likely to give its verdict today on interim bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was arrested on March 21 by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case linked to the alleged liquor policy scam and is seeking a release from jail to campaign for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

A bench, comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, had reserved its verdict on interim bail to Mr Kejriwal on May 7.

Mr Kejriwal, who is also the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is currently lodged in Tihar jail under judicial custody.

The bench has divided the hearing on Mr Kejriwal’s petition against his arrest into two parts. While his main petition challenges his arrest by the central probe agency and seeks it to be declared as “illegal”, the second aspect pertains to the grant of interim bail keeping in mind the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The Delhi High Court had on April 9 upheld the AAP chief’s arrest, saying there was no illegality and that the probe agency was left with “little option” after he skipped repeated summonses and refused to join the investigation related to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy 2021-22.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Delhi court extended Mr Kejriwal’s judicial custody in the money laundering case till May 20.

ED Opposes Arvind Kejriwal’s Bail 

The ED on Thursday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court opposing Arvind Kejriwal’s petition and said that laws are equal for all and that campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls is not a fundamental, constitutional, or even a legal right.

The probe agency said that no political leader has ever been granted bail for campaigning and said that letting Mr Kejriwal out of jail to canvas for AAP candidates would set a wrong precedent.

In its affidavit, the ED pointed out that, while hearing the bail plea of former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia — a co-accused in the same case — the court had said that the laws apply equally to all citizens and institutions, including the State.

Stating that Mr Kejriwal had sought interim bail primarily for campaigning in the Lok Sabha elections, the agency submitted, “It is relevant to note that the right to campaign is neither a fundamental right nor a constitutional right and not even a legal right.”

The agency also argued that 123 elections have taken place in the past five years and if interim bail is granted to Mr Kejriwal for campaigning, then no politician can be kept in judicial custody since polls take place around the year.

The ED repeated an argument it had made during the last hearing and said that campaigning is part of a politician’s job and, following the rule of equality, small farmers or small traders can also seek interim bail to carry out the demands of their work. It also stressed that Mr Kejriwal is not even contesting the ongoing elections.

The agency stated that granting bail to the Delhi Chief Minister would set a precedent that would permit “all unscrupulous politicians” to commit crimes and then evade investigation citing campaigning for one election or the other.

Supreme Court’s Last Hearing On Arvind Kejriwal’s Bail

In the last hearing, the Supreme Court had said it was not going by whether the petitioner is a politician or not. The focus, the bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna said, was on whether there was an exceptional circumstance which necessitated interim bail.

The Supreme Court also said that Arvind Kejriwal is the elected chief minister of Delhi and is not a habitual offender.

“There are elections… these are extraordinary circumstances and he is not a habitual offender,” the bench had said.

The bench also asked the ED why it took them two years to act against the chief minister and his party.

“The issue is that it has taken two years for this. It is not good for any investigating agency to say that it takes two years to unearth… now when will the trial start,” it asked.

All seven seats in Delhi will vote in the sixth phase of the seven-phased Lok Sabha elections on May 25.

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