May 27, 2024, Monday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Kejriwal gets bail from the Supreme Court to campaign in elections

The Nepal Weekly
May 14, 2024

India’s Supreme Court on Friday granted interim bail to a top opposition leader who was detained one and a half month ago in an alleged corruption case that opposition parties termed a political move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government against his rivals ahead of a national election. 

Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party, is the chief minister of Delhi, the capital city of India and one of the country’s most influential politicians of the past decade.

The court ordered Kejriwal’s release on interim bail, enabling him to campaign in the country’s national election until the voting ends on June 1, Kejriwal’s attorney said.

Opposition leaders hailed the court verdict. “It will be very helpful in the context of the current elections,” said Mamta Banerjee, the top elected official of West Bengal state.

However, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, a leader of the ruling party, said the court’s decision did not mean that Kejriwal has been exonerated in the bribery case. He will have to go back to jail on June 2 as pre-trial court proceedings are still taking place.

Kejriwal was arrested by the federal Enforcement Directorate, India’s main financial investigation agency, on March 21. The agency, controlled by Modi’s government, accused Kejriwal’s party and ministers of accepting 1 billion rupees ($12 million) in bribes from liquor contractors nearly two years ago. The arrest triggered days of protests by party activists supported by other opposition parties.

Kejriwal, who has remained New Delhi’s chief minister, has denied the accusations. His party is part of a broad alliance of opposition parties called INDIA, which is the main challenger to Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party in India’s six-week-long general election, which began last month.

Kejriwal’s case was the first time that a chief minister in India was arrested while in office. His arrest, which occurred before the start of the election, dominated headlines in Indian media.

kejriwal’s lawyer, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said he was a serving chief minister and not a “habitual offender” and deserved to be released to campaign. Kejriwal’s deputy, Manish Sisodia, was also arrested in the case earlier, weakening his party’s campaign in national elections.

The Enforcement Directorate opposed his bail, saying that releasing Kejriwal to campaign would indicate that there were different judicial standards for politicians and other citizens.