1. Home
  2. English
  3. Bail to Kejriwal is no Special Treatment: SC Junks Amit Shah’s Comment
Bail to Kejriwal is no Special Treatment: SC Junks Amit Shah’s Comment

Bail to Kejriwal is no Special Treatment: SC Junks Amit Shah’s Comment

Social Share

Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 16: The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to be drawn into a controversy over having given “special treatment” to the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in granting him interim bail for campaigning during the Lok Sabha elections, nor agreed to Enforcement Directorate’s plea to cancel his bail for his canvassing comment “I will not have to go back to jail if you vote for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).”

When senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, who was representing Mr Kejriwal, referred to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah statement that he did not see the Supreme Court’s decision as a routine judgment and stressed that many in the country believed that “special treatment” was given to him, a bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta said, “We have not made any exceptions. We welcome criticism of (our) decision (but) we will not go into this issue. Our order is clear… we have set the dates… also given reasons for granting interim bail.”

“Anyone may have a different opinion of our judgments and orders. We have no issue about it,” Justice Khanna said. He said the interim bail order on May 10 was very clear.

“The timeline we gave him (Kejriwal) is clear. Our order is the order of the apex court. It is governed by the rule of law. We specifically said we are not making an exception for anybody. We felt it (interim bail) was justified, so we passed the order… Let us confine ourselves to legal arguments,” Justice Khanna addressed the lawyers.

The eight-page bail order had rejected an argument by the ED that releasing Mr Kejriwal on interim bail to canvas votes would create an impression among the public, worse still, a judicial precedent, that politicians were a separate class, higher in status than the ordinary citizen and immune from arrest.

The court order had listed several points in favour of granting Mr Kejriwal interim bail, including that he was the Chief Minister of Delhi and a leader of one of the national parties. “No doubt, serious accusations have been made, but he has not been convicted. He does not have any criminal antecedents. He is not a threat to society,” the court had pointed out.

The interim bail was “not an exception” the Court said today after the government complained that its decision has been criticised by many. “We have not made any exception for anybody. We said in our order what we felt was justified,” said the bench.

In an unexpected step, court, which was hearing the Chief Minister’s challenge to his arrest last week, also said it would hear his appeal for bail. While granting interim bail in the same hearing, the judges had made their reasoning clear: That elections are “vis viva” (life force) of a democracy and Mr Kejriwal heads a national party, that he is not convicted and is not a threat to society. The top court’s move also follows its frequent argument for bail being the rule and jail an exception.

The top court also junked the ED’s plea for action against out-on-bail Kejriwal for saying during the election campaign that “… if you vote for AAP (when Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats poll next week) I won’t have to go back to jail,” which solicitor general Tushar Mehta interpreted as a “slap on the judiciary” but the court ruled the remark did not violate his bail terms.

The court told the federal agency Mr Kejriwal’s comment constituted his personal opinion, and said, “It Is his assumption… we cannot say anything. Our order (on the Chief Minister returning to jail on June 2) is clear. That is the decision of this court (and) we will be governed by the rule of law…”

Mr Mehta had argued that Mr Kejriwal, while campaigning, had said “… if you vote for AAP, I won’t have to go back to jail…” was a “clear violation of conditions set by the court. It is a slap in the face of the judiciary.” Responding for Mr Kejriwal, Mr Singhvi pointed out that senior union ministers – whom he did not name – had made various kinds of statements against his client.

On Monday, while campaigning for his party, Mr Kejriwal said he feared being thrown in jail again should the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance win the 2024 Lok Sabha election. He also claimed efforts were made, after being sent to Delhi’s Tihar Jail, to “break and humiliate” him.

“I have to go back to jail on June 2. I will be watching the results (of the election) on June 4 from jail. If you make INDIA bloc (the Congress-led opposition grouping of which the AAP is a member) win, I will come back on June 5. If there is lack of effort, let us see when we will meet,” he had said.

“According to me, this is a slap on the system,” Mr Mehta told the bench. ‘They say I have to go back to jail in 20 days. If you (voters) vote for ‘broom’, then I will not have to go to jail’. He is saying if you vote for me, I will not have to go back to jail on June 2. How can that happen?” Mr Mehta, representing the ED, objected. The Solicitor General said the remarks proved that Mr Kejriwal “treats himself as a special person.” “We (ED) treat him as any other ordinary citizen committing an offence,” Mr Mehta declared.

Unmoved, Justice Khanna said the remarks of Mr Kejriwal, who is the National convenor of AAP, that he would not have to return to jail if the electorate votes for him was merely an “assumption.” The judge said the court, in its May 10 order granting interim bail to Mr Kejriwal, had only prohibited him from discussing his role in the excise policy case. “We said he will not discuss his role in the case. About the case, we did not say anything,” Justice Khanna observed.

Justice Datta said Mr Kejriwal would have to return in 20 days was exactly what the court’s order had said. “That is our order, then?” the judge questioned Mr Mehta. Senior advocate AM Singhvi, for Mr Kejriwal, said the ED was trying to introduce a “flourish of prejudice” against the Chief Minister.



Your email address will not be published.

Join our WhatsApp Channel

And stay informed with the latest news and updates.

Join Now
revoi whats app qr code