Delhi HC stays bail order for Chief Minister Kejriwal in money laundering case

India Gate, Delhi. (Photo: Christian Today/Shireen Bhatia)

The Delhi High Court has put a temporary hold on the bail granted to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a money laundering case linked to an alleged excise policy scam. The move comes just a day after a trial court had ordered Kejriwal's release on bail.

On Friday, June 21, a vacation bench of Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain reserved judgement on the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) plea challenging the bail order. "Till pronouncement, the operation of the impugned order shall remain stayed," the High Court stated. Justice Jain indicated that the order would be pronounced within two to three days.

The ED, represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.V. Raju, sought an urgent stay on the bail order, contending that the agency was not given a proper opportunity to present its case in the trial court. Raju argued that the trial court's order was "perverse" and claimed he was denied full opportunity to complete his arguments.

"I was not allowed to argue fully. I was not given proper time of 2-3 days to file written submissions. This is not done. On merits, I have an excellent case. The trial court said finish in half an hour as it wanted to deliver the judgement. It did not give us full opportunity to argue the case," the ASG contended.

The ED's counsel further alleged that even after the order was passed, when ED lawyers urged the trial court to keep its order in abeyance for 48 hours to enable them to approach superior courts, the request was not considered.

Kejriwal's lawyers, senior advocates Abhishek Singhvi and Vikram Chaudhari, opposed the ED's plea. They argued that the allegations made by the ED counsel were incorrect and asserted that cancellation or reversal of bail is fundamentally different from granting bail, citing Supreme Court judgments.

Kejriwal was arrested by the ED on March 21, shortly after the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from arrest on his petition challenging summonses issued to him. He was granted interim bail because of the General Elections and had surrendered again on June 2.

On June 20, the trial court had granted Kejriwal bail, ordering his release on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and imposing certain conditions, including that he would not attempt to hamper the investigation or influence witnesses.

The case has sparked political controversy, with AAP leaders accusing the central government of targeting their party. Kejriwal's wife, Sunita Kejriwal, expressed strong criticism of the ED's actions, stating, "Even before Kejriwal's bail order was uploaded, the ED reached HC. They are behaving as if he is a terrorist." She added, "Dictatorship has crossed all limits. We hope the High Court will deliver justice."

AAP leader Sanjay Singh accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making a mockery of the justice system. In a social media post on X (formerly Twitter), he questioned, "Look at the hooliganism of the Modi government, the trial court's order has not yet come, even a copy of the order has not been received, so Modi's ED reached the High Court to challenge which order? What is happening in this country?" (auto translated)

The money laundering case is linked to alleged irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021 - 2022, which was later scrapped. Kejriwal has consistently denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the case is politically motivated.

The Delhi High Court's decision to stay the bail order means that Kejriwal will remain in Tihar jail until the court pronounces its verdict on the ED's plea.