Supreme Court Labels Arvind Kejriwal Case as Unusual

Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal : was taken into custody by the Enforcement Directorate in March in connection with the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam. Since his arrest, he has remained in jail, with the exception of a 21-day period in May and June when he was granted interim bail to campaign for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied immediate relief to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in his attempt to overturn the High Court’s interim stay on a bail order issued by a lower court last week. Kejriwal argued that the High Court had erred by staying the bail without thoroughly reviewing the lower court’s order and rationale. The Supreme Court responded that it would wait until the High Court’s full order was on record and had a chance to re-examine the stay before ruling on his plea.

The Supreme Court scheduled the next hearing for Wednesday, with the High Court expected to deliver its full verdict on Tuesday. “It is not proper to interfere when the High Court has reserved its judgment,” the Supreme Court stated.

Arvind Kejriwal

Justice Manoj Mishra

acknowledged that the High Court’s actions were “unusual,” stating, “In stay matters, orders are not reserved but passed on the spot. What has happened here is unusual.” This remark came after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Enforcement Directorate (ED), mentioned that the High Court would likely deliver its verdict within 24 hours.

The High Court had earlier paused Mr. Kejriwal’s bail following a last-minute challenge from the ED, which arrested him in March in connection with the liquor policy case. The ED’s challenge, filed just hours before Kejriwal was set to be released, argued that the bail order was “perverse.” Consequently, the High Court immediately stayed Kejriwal’s release pending further arguments.

On Sunday, Mr. Kejriwal contested this stay in the Supreme Court, seeking relief from the interim order issued by the High Court.

Arvind Kejriwal Appeals for Bail, Citing No Flight Risk

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has made a fervent appeal for bail, emphasizing that he does not pose a flight risk. Kejriwal’s legal team argued that his consistent cooperation with the investigation and his prominent public role as Chief Minister significantly reduce any likelihood of fleeing. The plea underscores that Kejriwal has deep roots in the community, making it improbable for him to abscond.

The context of this appeal is Kejriwal’s arrest in connection with the alleged Delhi liquor policy case, a matter that has seen substantial legal back-and-forth. His lawyers stressed that his presence is crucial for ongoing governance and administrative responsibilities, further highlighting his commitment to face the legal process without evasion.

Kejriwal’s Lawyers Argue for Bail, Emphasizing “Balance of Convenience”

During a brief hearing this morning, Arvind Kejriwal’s legal team argued that the “balance of convenience” favors the Delhi Chief Minister’s release, asserting there is no substantial reason for him to remain in jail. Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi stated, “If bail is reversed, he will certainly go back to jail… as he did after the Supreme Court’s interim release (to campaign for the election).”

Singhvi referred to Kejriwal’s temporary release last month, which was granted by the Supreme Court to allow him to campaign for his party and the Congress-led INDIA bloc in the 2024 Lok Sabha election. This election saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP struggling to maintain its dominance and having to rely on its allies to form the government.

Arvind Kejriwal

Highlighting the Supreme Court’s order that granted Kejriwal interim bail, Singhvi pointed out that the court had acknowledged Kejriwal is not a “habitual offender” and has no criminal history. “Why can’t I be free in the interim? I have a judgment in my favor,” he argued, responding to the court’s suggestion that the Chief Minister be patient for 24-48 hours until the High Court delivers its order.

Court Stays “Perverse Order”

In a significant move, the court has decided to stay what has been described as a “perverse order.” The order in question had previously halted bail for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, following a last-minute challenge by the Enforcement Directorate. Kejriwal’s legal team successfully argued that the initial order lacked a solid basis and was contrary to judicial norms. This decision now allows for a more thorough review of the case, providing Kejriwal with temporary relief as the legal process continues.

Why Was Mr Kejriwal Arrested?

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on allegations of money laundering linked to the 2021-22 Delhi liquor policy, which was subsequently scrapped after objections from the Lieutenant Governor. The ED claims that approximately ₹100 crore received from liquor vendors was funneled into the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) election campaigns in Goa and Punjab.

Both Kejriwal and the AAP have vehemently denied these allegations, dismissing them as politically motivated. They highlight that despite extensive investigations, the ED has not uncovered any evidence of the alleged bribe money. 

Arvind Kejriwal

Last Thursday, Kejriwal was granted regular bail by Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court. The court acknowledged his argument that the case against him was primarily based on statements from former accused individuals who have since become government witnesses. Kejriwal’s defense emphasized that there was no substantial evidence linking him to the ₹100 crore purportedly from the ‘South Group’. The court noted, “Statements by tainted persons discredit the prosecution’s case. 

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