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Kejriwal’s Release from Jail Temporarily Stalled by Delhi HC

Kejriwal’s Release from Jail Temporarily Stalled by Delhi HC

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 21: In a major setback to the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi High Court on Friday stalled his release from the Tihar jail on bail granted by the Rouse Avenue court on Thursday till completion of hearing of the petition filed by the Enforcement Directorate calling the lower court’s bail order “perverse.”

The ED moved the High Court with the urgent petition just hours before Mr Kejriwal was set to walk out of the jail on the Rouse Avenue court’s order which had also rejected the ED’s plea for a stay on the application of the bail order and had directed Kejriwal’s counsel to move the bail bonds before the Tihar authorities on Friday to ensure his release.

The High Court bench comprising Justices Sudhir Kumar Jain and Ravinder Dudeja halted Mr Kejriwal’s anticipated release and said the order of the lower court could not be acted upon till it heard the ED’s petition in full. The court said till it heard the probe agency’s petition, which could take another 2-3 days, Mr Kejriwal would remain in jail.

Mr Kejriwal’s wife, Sunita Kejriwal, and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders had planned to visit Tihar Jail at 4 pm on Friday to greet the Delhi Chief Minister. On Thursday, Delhi’s Rouse Avenue court had ordered Mr Kejriwal’s release on a personal bond of ₹ 1 lakh but imposed certain conditions before granting him the relief, including that he would not try to hamper the investigation or influence the witnesses. The court had accepted Mr Kejriwal’s argument that the probe agency hasn’t presented enough evidence since arresting the Delhi Chief Minister on March 21.
The bail came after multiple rounds in trial courts where Mr Kejriwal has been repeatedly denied bail. He hasn’t stepped down as Delhi Chief Minister despite calls from the ruling BJP for his resignation.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, representing the ED, argued in the High Court against the trial court’s decision to grant bail to Mr Kejriwal, labelling it as “perverse” and highlighting serious procedural irregularities. “The trial court’s order is completely flawed. The court said there was no direct proof. That’s a wrong statement by the court,” Mr Raju said before the bench.

“We showed material but nothing considered. There are two ways when bail can be cancelled. If relevant facts are not considered and irrelevant facts are considered, that is grounds for cancellation of bail. I am saying look at the soundness of the order. Could have granted bail but not in this manner. Totally perverse order,” he added.

The Additional Solicitor General claimed the trial court arrived on the decision based on wrong facts. “On wrong facts, wrong dates, you come to a conclusion that mala fide. But why, the reason is missing. My note not considered, not allowed to argue. The arrest was challenged. The remanding court said the arrest was correct. It was challenged before this court. The single judge said nothing wrong with the arrest,” he said.

Citing a 2014 Supreme Court precedent, Mr Raju underscored the importance of ensuring that bail decisions are based on sound legal reasoning and comprehensive evaluation of all pertinent facts. “The trial court should not have overlooked relevant aspects and should not have relied on irrelevant considerations,” he asserted. “The court did not hear our arguments, did not properly examine the evidence we provided, and dismissed our concerns without due consideration,” he added.

The High Court, while temporarily suspending the bail order, indicated that a thorough examination of the ED’s petition would be conducted before any further decisions are made. “Until the matter is fully heard and evaluated, the trial court’s decision granting bail cannot be implemented,” the bench declared.

The ED’s plea was opposed by senior advocates Abhishek Singhvi and Vikram Chaudhari, representing Mr Kejriwal, submitting that the allegations made by the ED counsel were patently incorrect and it was astonishing that they cannot accept anything with grace. “The noise and heat is not going to solve this problem,” Mr Singhvi said.

He said there were 10 judgements of the Supreme Court which say cancellation or reversal of bail is radically different from grant of bail. Advocate Chaudhari said, “This person (Kejriwal) was released by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court granted him liberty. This would be a travesty of justice. We are on caveat here and we should be given opportunity to be heard. We would address arguments. An ex-parte order of such a nature…”

To this, Justice Jain said, “File is coming to me in 10-15 minutes after proper numbering, thereafter, you can start your arguments. You can argue for as much time as you want to argue.”

The ED had arrested Mr Kejriwal on March 21 shortly after the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from arrest on his petition challenging summonses issued to him. On May 10, the Supreme Court had granted interim bail to the AAP supremo till June 1 to campaign in the Lok Sabha elections, saying he will have to surrender and go back to jail on June 2. Kejriwal had surrendered before Tihar jail authorities on June 2 and has been there since then.

Responding to the development Ms Sunita Kejriwal said, “Even before Kejriwal’s bail order was uploaded, the ED reached HC. They are behaving as if he is a terrorist.” “Dictatorship has crossed all limits. We hope the High Court will deliver justice. Neighbouring States not giving water to Delhi. Is this the time to indulge in politics?” Ms Kejriwal read out CM’s message from jail.

AAP leader Sanjay Singh accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making a mockery of the justice system after the Delhi High Court put on hold the trial court order granting bail to Arvind Kejriwal. Taking to X, Mr Singh said in a post in Hindi, “Look at the hooliganism of the Modi government, the trial court’s order has not yet come, even a copy of the order has not been received, so Modi’s ED reached the High Court to challenge which order? What is happening in this country? Modi ji, why are you making a mockery of the justice system? The whole country is watching you?” the AAP MP said.

The ED arrested Mr Kejriwal over money laundering allegations while framing the Delhi liquor policy for 2021-22, which was later scrapped after the Lieutenant Governor raised red flags. The ED has alleged the money Mr Kejriwal got from the liquor sellers was used to fund the party’s campaign in Goa since he is the convenor of the AAP.




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