Sigh of Relief for Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, SC Grants Interim Bail till June 1

Arvind Kejriwal

In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal until June 1, 2024, allowing him to campaign in the Lok Sabha elections.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta ruled that the Delhi CM will have to surrender and return to jail on June 2, 2024.

The court also clarified that the grant of ‘interim bail’ will not be construed as an expression of opinion on the merits of the case or the criminal appeal that is currently pending consideration before it.

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, pleaded for interim bail until June 5, 2024, a day after the votes are counted on June 4, but the bench declined the request.

It is to be noted that June 1 marks the culmination of the seven-phase elections, with vote counting scheduled for June 4, 2024.

Interim Bail Conditions

The Apex Court has granted interim bail to Kejriwal under the following conditions:

He must provide bail bonds amounting to Rs. 50,000 along with one surety of the same amount, which must be satisfactory to the Jail Superintendent. He is prohibited from visiting the Office of the Chief Minister and the Delhi Secretariat. Additionally, he is obligated by the statement made on his behalf, declaring that he will refrain from signing official documents unless it is essential and necessary for obtaining clearance/approval from the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

Probe Agency’s Opposed

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, representing the Enforcement Directorate, opposed interim bail for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief, citing lack of precedents in poll campaigning cases.

The bench remarked that granting Kejriwal interim bail for 21 days would not significantly impact the case, noting that the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) was filed in August 2022, while the chief minister was arrested on March 21 this year. “He (Kejriwal) was out there for one-and-a-half-years. He could have been arrested earlier or later, but nothing of the sort occurred,” the bench told the ED.

Law officers urged the court to impose bail conditions, including a restriction on Kejriwal’s commentary regarding the excise policy case. The bench stated that the conditions would be akin to those imposed on AAP leader Sanjay Singh, who was granted bail last month in connection with the case.

What the Delhi CM’s Lawyer Said?

According to lawyer Shadan Farasat, representing Kejriwal, the court issued a brief oral order.

“We have not yet seen the written order, so we are unaware of its exact contents. The court stated that Kejriwal is released on interim bail until June 2, with no restrictions on his statements during campaigning or while he is out for these 20-22 days,” he said.

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

Challenge to Delhi HC’s Order

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

The bench stated that arguments on Kejriwal’s plea against the arrest will resume next week, aiming to deliver a judgment on the petition before the commencement of the summer recess on May 20. The case pertains 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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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte