Excise policy case: Kejriwal moves SC against Delhi HC's interim stay on bail order in ED case

The high court on Friday paused the release of the embattled chief minister after the trial court granted him bail on June 20.
AAP National Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal
AAP National Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal File Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday approached the Supreme Court challenging Friday's Delhi High Court order that stayed his bail in the Delhi liquor case.

The Delhi High Court's Vacation Bench of Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain had on Friday stayed the trial court's order granting Kejriwal bail and reserved judgment on the ED's appeal, stating he would pass the order in 2-3 days, possibly on Tuesday, June 25.

This prompted Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Convenor Kejriwal to move the top court on Sunday challenging the HC's stay on his bail.

Kejriwal's legal team told this newspaper that they would mention the matter on June 24, Monday, before a vacation bench of the top court and seek urgent listing and hearing in the case. "We have filed an appeal in the top court challenging the HC order staying the bail of Kejriwal," lawyer Sanjeev Nasiar, a member of Kejriwal's legal team, told TNIE.

It is to be noted that Justice Jain had on Friday indicated he would likely pass the order in the ED's appeal challenging the trial court's bail order on June 25, Tuesday. The HC order was a significant setback for Kejriwal.

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On Thursday, June 20, in a major relief to Kejriwal, Rouse Avenue Court's Vacation Judge Niyay Bindu granted him bail in the Delhi liquor case. Kejriwal is the prime accused in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor case. The court granted Kejriwal bail after directing him to furnish a personal bail bond of Rs 1 lakh.

Soon after the pronouncement of the order by Judge Bindu, the ED, which is probing the Delhi liquor case along with the CBI, requested the court to give 48 hours to sign the bail bond so that the order could be challenged by the probe agency before the appellate court.

The judge, however, did not allow the ED's request and ordered that the bail bond be produced before the duty judge by Friday. The trial court also made it clear to the ED that there was no stay on the bail order.

Challenging the trial court order, the ED appealed to the Delhi HC seeking a stay on his bail.

During the hearing on Thursday in the HC, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, representing the ED, argued that the trial court's bail order was "perverse" as it was contrary to the mandate of Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. "The trial court order should be immediately stayed. We were not given an opportunity to represent our case in the trial court. When I tried to submit, the trial court said I had to deliver the judgment. Be brief," he said.

Opposing the ED's submissions, senior advocate Vikram Chaudhari, representing Kejriwal, raised a preliminary objection to listing the matter during the vacations because the trial judge had granted bail through a reasoned order. "What is the justification for approaching the HC during vacations," he questioned.

"What is the anxiety to get it listed during vacations? There is no question of a stay," he said.

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ASG Raju further elaborated that material shown in the trial court was not considered. "There are two ways bail can be cancelled. If relevant facts are not considered and irrelevant facts are considered, that is grounds for cancellation of bail," he explained.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi countered, saying the ED's approach was "deplorable."

"The accused (Kejriwal) cannot be kept indefinitely in jail merely for the investigating agency to find evidence. It is very unfortunate that the ASG is maligning the judge merely because an adverse order was passed," he said.

Opposing the ASG's claim that he was not given an opportunity to argue, Singhvi stated that the hearing in the trial court lasted five hours, with the ED taking 3.45 hours and the rest by Kejriwal's lawyer. "Therefore, where is the question of the ED being denied the opportunity to present its case?" Singhvi pointed out, rejecting the submissions.

On June 5, Judge Kaveri Baweja of Delhi's court rejected Kejriwal's bail plea on the grounds that his involvement in the crime could not be ruled out.

The ED had told the court that he was the mastermind and main conspirator in the Delhi liquor case. "We have all the evidence against him," ASG Raju told the court.

A day after his plea was rejected by the Delhi High Court on April 9, Kejriwal moved the Supreme Court against the dismissal of his plea on April 10.

The accused, Kejriwal, claimed innocence in the liquor gate scam case and told the court during the hearings that the timing of his arrest, right after the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was enforced, was to humiliate, insult, and disable him and his political party.

ASG Raju said there was sufficient evidence against him and that he was the main conspirator in the Delhi liquor scam case.

Earlier on May 10, the Supreme Court granted Kejriwal bail till June 1 to participate in election campaigns, asking him to surrender on June 2, while imposing certain conditions on him. He had been in Tihar jail since March 21 for his alleged involvement in the Delhi liquor case.

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