SC grants Kejriwal interim bail till June 1 for campaigning in LS polls

NEW DELHI : In a major relief to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Supreme Court on Friday granted him interim bail till June 1 to campaign in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta said Kejriwal, arrested in a money laundering case linked to the alleged excise policy scam, will have to surrender and go back to jail on June 2.

The bench refused the request of senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, that the interim bail be granted till June 5.

June 1 is the last day of the seven-phase elections. The votes will be counted on June 4.

The court said reasons for granting Kejriwal interim bail will follow.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, opposed the granting of interim bail to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief on grounds of poll campaigning saying no such precedents are available.

Observing that granting Kejriwal interim bail for 21 days will not make much of a difference, the bench said the ED’s Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) was registered 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 after but nothing such thing happened,” the bench told ED.

The law officers urged the court to impose bail conditions, including that Kejriwal will not say anything regarding the excise policy case.

The bench said the conditions will be similar to those imposed on AAP leader Sanjay Singh, who was given bail last month in connection with the case.

According to lawyer Shadan Farasat, who appeared for Kejriwal, the court pronounced a very short oral order.

“We have not yet seen the written order. So we don’t know the exact contents of the written order. The court said they are releasing Kejriwal on an interim release/bail until June 2, and there are no conditions on what he can say and what he cannot say during the campaigning process and while he is out in these 20-22 days,” he said.

“We are hoping that this order is uploaded today, and then we will update appropriate procedure for his release,” Farasat added.

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

The bench said arguments on Kejriwal’s plea against the arrest will continue next week and it will try to pronounce the judgement on the petition before the summer vacations starting May 20.

The matter relates to alleged corruption and money laundering in the formulation and execution of the Delhi government’s now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22.