Supreme Court grants interim bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal till 1 June 2024

The Bench directed Kejriwal to report back to judicial custody on 2 June, two days prior to the 2024 Lok Sabha Election Results

In a hearing which lasted for less than five minutes, the Supreme Court directed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to be released from judicial custody till 1 June 2024. The Aam Aadmi Party leader was arrested on 21 March 2024 by the Enforcement Directorate for his alleged involvement in the Delhi Liquor Policy case. Kejriwal will return to custody on 2 June, two days prior to the results of the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. 

In the hearings so far

Soon after his arrest, Kejriwal filed a plea challenging his arrest under Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering, 2002. Appearing for Kejriwal, Senior Advocate A.M. Singhvi had argued that his arrest did not fit the criteria stipulated under Section 19. He stated that the arrest was illegal due to inconsistencies in witness statements, suggesting that the witnesses were pressured into making statements against Kejriwal. He also questioned the timing of Kejriwal’s arrest, pointing out that he was taken into custody by the ED just five days after the model code of conduct was issued. Last week, the Supreme Court suggested that they would consider granting interim bail in light of the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections in Delhi which are set to commence in two weeks from now, on 25 May 2024. 

On Tuesday this week, the ED—through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju—had argued that Kejriwal was arrested only after the case developed and new facts emerged. Mehta had argued that granting bail would set a bad precedent pointing out that Kejriwal had missed nine summons by the ED over six months. In the same hearing, the Bench had observed that Kejriwal would not be able to perform his official duties as a Chief Minister if he was granted interim bail stating that it would result in a “cascading effect.” 

After today’s pronouncement, Mehta was quick to express his dissatisfaction and reiterated Kejriwal’s non-cooperation towards summon orders. To this, Justice Sanjiv Khanna stated that Kejriwal was arrested in March 2024 and “21 days here and there would not make a difference.” 

The latest updates

Yesterday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court Registry opposing the grant of interim bail to Kejriwal. The affidavit argued against providing a differential treatment to a politician and stated that no political leader contesting in the elections was granted bail prior for the purpose of campaigning. Kejriwal responded with a subsequent affidavit stating that the ED disregarded procedures and filed an affidavit after the hearings had concluded. 

The Supreme Court did not elaborate on any conditions for granting interim bail. However, a detailed order explaining the Court’s reasoning is expected later in the day.