ED says Kejriwal sees himself as a special person, accuses him of remarks ‘slapping the system’

Mr. Kejriwal’s lawyers retorts they could, in turn, file an affidavit in the Supreme Court objecting to remarks reportedly made by a top Government Minister about the bail order.

Updated - May 16, 2024 05:48 pm IST

Published - May 16, 2024 02:41 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal speaks at a press conference, in Lucknow. The ED has accused the Delhi CM of slandering the system in his speeches since getting bail

Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal speaks at a press conference, in Lucknow. The ED has accused the Delhi CM of slandering the system in his speeches since getting bail | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) on Thursday accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of making public utterances, which amounted to a “slap on the system”, on the very first day after he came out on interim bail granted to him by the Supreme Court in the liquor policy case for campaigning in the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr. Kejriwal’s lawyers retorted that they could, in turn, file an affidavit in the Supreme Court objecting to remarks reportedly made by a top Government Minister about the bail order.

Also read: Arvind Kejriwal hearing LIVE updates - May 16, 2024

Appearing before a Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for ED, said Mr. Kejriwal made remarks about the case and urged the public to vote for the ‘broom’ symbol of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) so that he would not have to go back to jail on June 2.

The Supreme Court, while granting him interim bail, had ordered him to surrender on June 2.

“According to me, this is a slap on the system. He said ‘They say I have to go back to jail in 20 days. If you (voters) vote for ‘broom’, then I will not have to go to jail’. He is saying if you vote for me, I will not have to go back to jail on June 2. How can that happen?” Mr. Mehta, representing the ED, objected.

The Solicitor General said the remarks proved that Mr. Kejriwal “treats himself as a special person”.

“We (ED) treat him as any other ordinary citizen committing an offence,” Mr. Mehta declared.

Kejriwal’s remarks merely an assumption: Bench

Unmoved, Justice Khanna said the remarks of Mr. Kejriwal, who is the National convenor of AAP, that he would not have to return to jail if the electorate votes for him was merely an “assumption”.

The judge said that the court, in its May 10 order granting interim bail to Mr. Kejriwal, had only prohibited him from discussing his role in the excise policy case.

“We said he will not discuss his role in the case. About the case, we did not say anything,” Justice Khanna observed.

Justice Datta said that Mr. Kejriwal would have to return in 20 days was exactly what the court’s order had said. “That is our order, then?” the judge questioned Mr. Mehta.

Senior advocate AM Singhvi, for Mr. Kejriwal, said the ED was trying to introduce a “flourish of prejudice” against the Chief Minister.

“If he (Mehta) is filing an affidavit on this issue. I will also file an affidavit on what a top Minister in the government has said (about the bail order of the apex court),” Mr. Singhvi protested on behalf of Mr. Kejriwal.

Justice Khanna said the court had no issue about people making a critical analysis of its judgments.

“Anyone may have a different opinion of our judgments and orders. We have no issue about it,” Justice Khanna said.

He said the interim bail order on May 10 was very clear.

“The timeline we gave him (Kejriwal) is clear. Our order is the order of the apex court. It is governed by the rule of law. We specifically said we are not making an exception for anybody. We felt it (interim bail) was justified, so we passed the order… Let us confine ourselves to legal arguments,” Justice Khanna addressed the lawyers.

Mr. Mehta said the Chief Minister “ought not” have made these remarks. “I take exception. That’s all,” he said.

The eight-page bail order had rejected an argument by the ED that releasing Mr. Kejriwal on interim bail to canvas votes would create an impression among the public, worse still, a judicial precedent, that politicians were a separate class, higher in status than the ordinary citizen and immune from arrest.

The court order had listed several points in favour of granting Mr. Kejriwal interim bail, including that he was the Chief Minister of Delhi and a leader of one of the national parties.

“No doubt, serious accusations have been made, but he has not been convicted. He does not have any criminal antecedents. He is not a threat to society,” the court had pointed out.

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