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Lok Sabha polls: SC grants interim bail to Kejriwal in liquor policy case

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 in connection with the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam investigation

kejriwal in court,  Arvind Kejriwal,  Rouse Avenue Court

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal leaves from the Rouse Avenue Court in the excise policy-linked money laundering case, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 28, 2024. (Photo: PTI)

Nisha Anand New Delhi

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In a major win for the Opposition, the Supreme Court on Friday granted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal interim bail until June 1 in the alleged excise policy scam case. With the top court's order, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief is set to resume his election activities, focusing on campaigning in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

The key electoral exercise, which commenced on April 19, will conclude with results on June 4.

The AAP chief was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 in connection with the investigation. He is currently lodged in Delhi's Tihar Jail under judicial custody.

His arrest has been heavily criticised by the Opposition parties, which allege political vendetta by the Narendra Modi government and misuse of central probe agencies against Opposition leaders. The Opposition also raised questions over the "timing" of Kejriwal's arrest by the ED, which followed less than a month before the Lok Sabha elections.

ED opposed Arvind Kejriwal's interim bail plea

The SC's order comes a day after the ED filed an affidavit on Thursday opposing Kejriwal's plea for interim bail in the top court, saying the right to campaign in elections is neither fundamental nor constitutional.

Earlier, the SC had observed that the elections are an "extraordinary situation."  "Elections are around the corner, and we are thinking from that perspective," the Bench had said on May 7, noting that there was no harm in him campaigning for the polls.

"...We want to make it clear. Even if we release you on interim bail, we don't want you to perform any official duties as CM.  If we are releasing you, it is only for the purpose of elections."

Kejriwal's release major win for the Opposition

Kejriwal was in pre-trial detention since April 1, and his wife Sunita has been campaigning for his decade-old party in his absence.

The AAP is also a part of the Opposition's INDIA grouping of nearly two dozen non-BJP parties, which have come together in hopes of ousting the Modi government. The Delhi CM's arrest was being seen as a major dent to the elections prospects of the AAP, which heavily relies on Kejriwal's widespread popularity among the public.

His arrest was made in connection with the now scrapped Delhi liquor policy 2021-22, which the Delhi government is alleged to have "skewed" in favour of certain businessmen in return for bribes. Senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha are also lodged in Tihar jail concerning the case.

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First Published: May 10 2024 | 2:27 PM IST

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