Supreme Court Remarks on Interim Stay of Bail for Delhi CM Kejriwal in Money Laundering Case

Mainstream
25-Jun-2024
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The Supreme Court on Monday expressed concern over the Delhi High Court's decision to grant an interim stay on the bail of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a money laundering case without issuing a final order. A bench comprising Justices Manoj Misra and S.V.N. Bhatti noted that such an action was unusual, as decisions on stay matters are typically given immediately rather than being reserved.


Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21, accused of being part of a conspiracy to intentionally create loopholes in the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy for 2021-22. These loopholes allegedly benefited certain liquor sellers, with kickbacks used to fund the Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) election campaign in Goa. The ED claimed that Kejriwal, as the National Convenor of AAP, was both personally and vicariously liable for the offense of money laundering. Kejriwal has denied these allegations, accusing the ED of running an extortion racket.


The trial court granted Kejriwal bail on June 20, finding no direct evidence linking him to the proceeds of the crime and noting that another accused, Vijay Nair, was not acting on Kejriwal's behalf. The court also suggested that the ED was biased against Kejriwal. The ED immediately appealed this decision, and the Delhi High Court granted an interim stay on the bail order the following day, reserving its final decision on the stay application.


During the Supreme Court hearing, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, argued that the High Court's action of staying on bail on the first day of the hearing was unprecedented. He contended that the High Court should not have halted the bail order without first hearing the arguments and emphasized that Kejriwal is not a flight risk. Singhvi highlighted the procedural irregularity, pointing out that the High Court initially granted the interim stay before hearing the Enforcement Directorate's appeal.


The Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, representing the ED, informed the Supreme Court that the High Court would soon pass a final order on the stay application and suggested that the case be adjourned until then. The Supreme Court, acknowledging the unusual nature of the High Court's interim stay decision, decided to await the High Court's final order on the stay application and scheduled the next hearing for June 26.


The Supreme Court emphasized that it would not pre-judge the issue or repeat any potential procedural errors made by the High Court, underscoring the need for judicial thoroughness, especially in high-profile cases involving significant political figures and serious allegations of corruption and money laundering. The High Court is expected to deliver its final order on the stay application by June 26, and the Supreme Court will review this order in the subsequent hearing.


This case holds significant legal and political implications, considering Kejriwal's prominent political role and the nature of the allegations involving the Delhi Excise Policy. The Supreme Court's cautious approach reflects the importance of maintaining procedural integrity and ensuring a fair judicial process in such cases.


Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer