States & UTs

    Kejriwal granted interim bail; not allowed to visit CM office or Secretariat during bail

    The Hawk
    May10/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Supreme Court grants interim bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the money laundering case related to the Delhi excise policy, imposing conditions barring him from official duties and interactions connected to the case until June 1, amidst ongoing General Elections.

    Arvind Kejriwal

    New Delhi: In a big relief to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Supreme Court on Friday granted him interim bail till June 1 in the money laundering case registered by the Directorate of Enforcement in connection with the Delhi excise policy, with conditions that he shall not visit the Office of the Chief Minister or the Delhi Secretariat.
    A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta ordered Kejriwal to surrender on June 2.
    Imposing certain conditions while granting Kejriwal interim bail, the apex court said he would not interact with any of the witnesses or have access to any official files connected with the case.
    He will not "make any comment with regard to his role" in the present case, the bench ordered.
    "He shall be bound by the statement made on his behalf that he shall not sign official files unless it is required and necessary for obtaining clearance/ approval of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi," the order stated.
    The bench further said that he shall furnish bail bonds in the sum of Rs 50,000 with one surety of the like amount to the satisfaction of the Jail Superintendent.
    As the top court granted interim bail to Kejriwal, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, requested it to grant him interim bail until the declaration of results on June 4, which it declined.

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    Granting interim bail to Kejriwal, the Supreme Court took into consideration that he 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," said the top court.
    It further noted that the investigation in the present case has remained pending since August 2022 and Kejriwal was arrested March 21, 2004.
    The bench also made it clear that the grant of interim bail will not be treated as an expression of opinion on the merits of the case or the criminal appeal which is pending consideration before it.
    Earlier, while hearing Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kejriwal's plea against arrest by the ED and his subsequent remand in the excise policy case, the apex court had hinted at granting interim bail to him because of Lok Sabha elections.
    In its order today, the apex court rejected the arguments of ED that granting interim bail or release of campaigning would be giving premium of placing the politicians in a beneficial position compared to ordinary citizens of this country.
    "It is no gain saying that the general elections to Lok Sabha is the most significant event this year, as it should be in a national election year. Between 650-700 million voters out of an electorate of about 970 million will cast their votes to elect the government of this country for the next five years. General Elections supply the vis viva to a democracy. Given the prodigious importance, we reject the argument raised on behalf of the prosecution 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," the order stated.

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    "While examining the question of grant of interim bail/release, the courts always take into consideration the peculiarities associated with the person in question and the surrounding circumstances. To ignore the same would be iniquitous and wrong," it added.
    The bench also said that at this stage, it is not possible for it to either conclude the arguments or finally pronounce the judgment on the plea of Kejriwal against arrest.
    "However, there is an intervening factor which has prompted us to consider and pass the present order, namely, the 18th Lok Sabha General Elections, which are in progress. As the appeal is pending before us, we do not think it would be proper for us to direct the appellant - Arvind Kejriwal to approach the trial court for interim bail/release. This may not be apt in view of the legal issues and contentions that are under examination and consideration before us," it further stated.
    During the hearing Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing ED, objected to granting of interim bail to Kejriwal for campaigning saying farmers or shopkeepers do not get similar relief, the bench today said that the fact situation cannot be compared with harvesting of crops or plea to look after business affairs.
    "In this background, once the matter is subjudice and the questions relating to the 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," stated the order.
    Kejriwal, while filing an appeal in the apex court had contended that his arrest after the announcement of the General Elections was "motivated by extraneous considerations".
    On April 9, the High Court dismissed his plea for release from jail and rejected his argument of political vendetta amid the looming Lok Sabha elections.
    The High Court had said that Kejriwal's absence from nine ED summons over six months undermined any claims of special privilege as Chief Minister, suggesting his arrest was an inevitable consequence of his non-cooperation.
    Kejriwal was arrested by ED on March 21 in connection with a money laundering probe relating to alleged irregularities in the now-cancelled Delhi excise policy 2021-22.