“You Can’t Sign Files If You Get Bail”: Supreme Court To Arvind Kejriwal

'You Can't Sign Files If You Get Bail': Supreme Court To Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi:

Arvind Kejriwal is “not a habitual offender”, the Supreme Court observed Tuesday as it heard arguments for interim bail for the Delhi Chief Minister, who is currently in the city’s Tihar Jail on money laundering charges linked to the now-scrapped liquor excise policy.

The top court – which is hearing the larger matter of Mr Kejriwal’s plea against his arrest – had earlier said it would consider bail for the AAP leader to allow him to campaign for his party in the ongoing Lok Sabha election. Delhi – which has seven Lok Sabha seats, all of which were won by the BJP in the last election – votes in a single phase on May 25.

The court began by observing that Arvind Kejriwal is the “elected Chief Minister” of the national capital. “There are elections… these are extraordinary circumstances and he is not a habitual offender,” a bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta said.

“If elections were not there… there would be no question of interim bail,” Justice Datta noted, after his colleague said, “This is question of proprietary… of public interest.”

However, the court also had words of warning for Mr Kejriwal, as it took note of the Enforcement Directorate’s allegations that the Chief Minister played a key role in formulating the liquor excise policy. “… suppose we release you, and you are allowed to participate in elections, you will (also) be performing official duties… it can have cascading effects,” the court noted, referring to Mr Kejriwal’s potential involvement in the policy.

To this, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Mr Kejriwal, stressed his client would “not be dealing with anything (connected to) this excise case”.

“We make it clear, we don’t want you to be performing official duties if we release you…” the court reiterated.

Earlier the ED told the Court it opposes bail. Appearing for the central agency, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju argue gd that releasing the AAP leader would set a bad example.

“What example are we setting? Are other people less important…? There can’t be any deviation only because he is a Chief Minister. Are we carving out exception for politicians? Is campaigning for elections be more important?” the ED’s lawyer argued.