Arvind Kejriwal gets interim bail till June 1 in Liquor Scam Case

Kejriwal, the chief of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 for his alleged role in irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.

The Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail till June 1 to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the high-profile liquor policy case. A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta directed Kejriwal to surrender on June 2 after the interim bail period.

Kejriwal, the chief of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 for his alleged role in irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22. He has been lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail since then.

The apex court’s order comes just days before the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections, allowing Kejriwal a brief reprieve to campaign for his party. However, the court had earlier indicated it could grant him bail on the condition that he would not carry out official duties as the chief minister during this period.

The ED had vehemently opposed granting interim bail to Kejriwal, arguing in an affidavit that the right to campaign is neither a fundamental nor a constitutional right. It stated that politicians cannot claim a higher status than ordinary citizens and granting bail on grounds of elections would set a dangerous precedent.

The AAP filed a complaint against the ED’s affidavit, accusing the agency of “blatant disregard of legal procedures” and suggesting falsehoods.

The excise policy case pertains to alleged corruption, including increasing the commission for liquor wholesalers from 5% to 12% to facilitate bribery. The ED claims Kejriwal was the “kingpin” and “key conspirator”, actively involved in money laundering.

While the interim bail provides temporary relief, Kejriwal still faces legal troubles. The Delhi High Court had upheld his arrest in April, stating the evidence showed his active involvement in concealing proceeds of crime.

As the election battle heats up, the liquor scam case remains a major political crisis for the AAP chief and his party.