Arvind Kejriwal granted regular bail

Kejriwal is an institution, not a name or individual. He can achieve anything, practically anything, unachieved and unimagined earlier. He proved that when he got anticipatory bail to campaign for 2024 general elections, on the day of hearing, which was not even scheduled to hear his interim bail application.

Yes, they say ‘it happens only in India’, not for nothing.

And now, when he had just gone back in, when everyone, including his supporters and party workers thought he had gone in for a long time, he is out on bail. Yes, he is out on bail, with some conditions, as one would expect.

 In a major rebuff to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the court declined to reserve its decision for 48 hours to allow ED to consider its options and make an application to the Supreme Court to oppose his release. Interestingly, the court has granted bail despite the serious allegations in the CBI chargesheet recorded by the Supreme Court in its reasons to refuse Manish Sisodiya bail on 30 October 2023, which support ED’s allegations against Arvind Kejriwal’s involvement in a money laundering case related to the alleged Delhi liquor scam.

Special Judge Niyay Bindu ordered Arvind Kejriwal’s release on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh with certain conditions. As part of the conditions of bail, Arvind Kejriwal:

  1. Will not try to hamper the investigation;
  2. Will not influence witnesses;
  3. Will appear before the court whenever required; and
  4. Will fully cooperate with the investigation.

The bail to Arvind Kejriwal is a huge setback for the Modi government and the BJP in particular because getting regular bail in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases is much harder. Section 45(1) (ii) of PMLA says

Arvind Kejriwal leaving for Tihar on June 2 (X, Kejriwal)

“… the Court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail…”.

In plain language, the bail can be granted only if the judge is prima facie satisfied that Arvind Kejriwal has not committed the offence and that he is unlikely to commit any offence while on bail.

It is interesting to note the departure by Special Judge Niyay Bindu from that of the approach of the Supreme Court in Manish Sisodia bail application refusal on 30 October 2023:

“The right to bail in cases of delay, coupled with incarceration for a long period, depending on the nature of the allegations, should be read into Section 439 of the Code and Section 45 of the PML Act. The reason is that the constitutional mandate is the higher law, and it is the basic right of the person charged of an offence and not convicted, that he be ensured and given a speedy trial. When the trial is not proceeding for reasons not attributable to the accused, the court, unless there are good reasons, may well be guided to exercise the power to grant bail. This would be truer where the trial would take years.”

Also read: Problems of Kejriwal lie in the charge sheet of Maniosh Sisodia

The apex court had refused bail on the assurance by the prosecution that the trail against Manish Sisodia would proceed within six to eight months. It hasn’t.

Has the judge read into that commitment and decided to release Arvind Kejriwal? The detailed judgement may shed some light on it.

The ED had arrested Kejriwal on March 21. On May 10, the Supreme Court had granted interim bail to Kejriwal till June 1. He had gone back in on June 2.

His interim bail application on June 5 was refused by the trial court.

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