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SC Considering to Grant Interim Bail to Kejriwal, Next Hearing on May 7

SC Considering to Grant Interim Bail to Kejriwal, Next Hearing on May 7

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 3: The Supreme Court on Friday showed inclination to grant interim bail to the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in view of the on-going Lok Sabha elections even while advising not to “assume” anything or “read too much into it” the court’s suggestion that it may “consider” such a move.

A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta said it would look at the interim bail plea during the next hearing on May 7 and asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Mr Kejriwal’s counsel to be prepared for any eventuality.

The bench was hearing a plea moved by the Delhi Chief Minister challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case stemming from the alleged Delhi Excise policy scam. The bench earlier said the ED would have to justify the timing of Mr Kejriwal’s arrest on March 21 barely a week after the Model Code of Conduct for the Lok Sabha election came into force.

While hearing the case, Justice Sanjiv Khanna said the apex court would consider the question of interim bail to the Delhi Chief Minister because of the Lok Sabha elections. He also asked the Enforcement Directorate to be ready for the possibility.

After announcing, Justice Sanjiv Khanna told Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi CM, that the court “may or may not grant interim bail” He also cautioned the lawyers that the court is just being open about it. Justice Sanjiv Khanna said “Do not assume anything. Do not read anything into it. We are not saying anything either way.”

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader was arrested by ED officials on March 21 in connection with alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy. He has approached the Supreme Court after he did not get relief from lower courts. He is the third top AAP leader to be arrested in the corruption case, after his former deputy Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh. Mr Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP, is out on bail.

Appearing for Mr Kejriwal, Senior Advocate Abhishek Singhvi on Friday said there was no evidence against the Delhi Chief Minister and his arrest was illegal. “All evidence on which I am arrested is pre-2023 end. Every material is as in July 2023. Same evidence relied on in Manish Sisodia’s case. Money trail chart was the same,” Mr Singhvi said.

When the court asked if any action had been taken against AAP, Mr Singhvi replied in the negative. Referring to Section 70 of the PMLA, which deals with offences by companies, he said, “Anything or everything done by a political party cannot be attributed to its convenor or president. Merely mentioning a company cannot lead to arrest of the MD unless you show something, same thing with AAP.”

To this, Justice Khanna replied, “Any person in overall charge of the company, then you are vicariously liable with the company and then you have to show that it was done without your knowledge.” Mr Singhvi responded, “They say he is the brain behind AAP… he is involved in demand of kickbacks. There is no direct evidence.”

“It does appear we will not be able to complete today. So keep it on Tuesday morning itself… If it’s going to take time, does appear it’s going to take time, we may then consider the question of interim bail because of the elections. We may hear you on that because of the elections. Let’s be very clear on that,” Justice Khanna told Additional Solicitor General S V Raju who appeared for the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Mr Raju told the court that the decision to arrest Mr Kejriwal was not just taken by the investigating officer, but also fortified by a special judge. “Before he was arrested, they moved a division bench of Delhi High Court, saying that he should not be arrested, but the court perused the documents and said no interference. So application of judicial mind in three stages,” he said.

The court eventually noted that this case and examination of its various aspects may take time. “But if the case takes time, we may consider interim bail due to elections,” the bench said. The court asked what conditions may be imposed if bail is granted. “We are yet to decide on that and (will) hear on Tuesday. We must be open so that neither side is taken by surprise,” the court said.





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