• Thursday, July 25, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

India court halts opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal’s bail at last moment

A trial court had ordered the Delhi chief minister’s release in a corruption case on June 20.

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of the northern Indian state of Delhi and a major opposition leader in Indian politics, greets supporters of his Aam Aadmi Party after getting released on an interim bail from Tihar jail, in New Delhi on Friday, May 10, 2024. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

IN a dramatic turn of events, the Delhi high court on Friday (21) issued a temporary halt on a trial court’s order granting bail to Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi and convener of the Aam Aadmi Party, in an alleged liquor policy scam. The court also reserved the order on the petition of the ED seeking a stay on the trial court’s plea.

Kejriwal will continue to stay in the city’s Tihar jail for the time being.

The high court is expected to pronounce its order on June 25.

“I am reserving the order for two to three days. Till pronouncement of the order, the operation of the trial court order is stayed,” Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain said.

The single-judge bench gave the order after the Enforcement Directorate (ED), India’s economic crime-fighting agency, moved the high court challenging the trial court order on Kejriwal’s bail given on Thursday (20). The high court’s direction came just when he was about to be released from jail.

The trial court ordered the politician’s release on a personal bond of Rs 100,000 (£947). Conditions for his release included non-interference with the probe or influencing witnesses in the investigation in the alleged money-laundering case. Kejriwal was also asked to appear before the court as and when required and cooperate with the probe.

Additional solicitor general SV Raju, who appeared for the ED, called the trial court’s order completely “perverse” saying he was not adequately heard by the court.

He also questioned the trial court’s order saying the ED had shown proof of the AAP using proceeds of crime in the local elections of the state of Goa in 2022 and had traced Rs 45 crore (£4.2 million).

The ED had accused the AAP of using a part of the kickbacks of the excise policy ‘scam’ to fund its electoral campaign.

Raju also asked whether holding a constitutional post is a ground for getting bail. He said it would mean every minister would be granted bail.

“There cannot be anything more perverse than this,” he was quoted as saying by reports.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, countered the ED saying “not one paisa” was traced to the Delhi chief minister. He also called the ED’s approach “deplorable” and said an accused cannot be put behind bars indefinitely just for the investigating agency to gather evidence.

“Like Alice in Wonderland, ED has its own meaning of perversity. For them, it means error is perversity and unless every argument of ED is repeated verbatim, it is perversity,” the senior advocate said.

Kejriwal was arrested by the ED on March 21 in the money-laundering case and was granted an interim bail by the apex court in May for three weeks in the middle of the recently concluded general elections for campaigning. He surrendered on June 2 and has remained in judicial custody since then.

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