Liquor policy: Delhi HC issues notice to CBI on Arvind Kejriwal's bail plea

Justice Neena Bansal Krishna asks the agency to file its response, while scheduling the matter for the next hearing on 17 July

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (photo: PTI)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (photo: PTI)

Ashlin Mathew

The Delhi High Court on Friday, 5 July, issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s bail plea in the money-laundering case linked to the alleged excise policy scam.

Justice Neena Bansal Krishna notified the agency and directed them to respond to the plea, while scheduling the next hearing for 17 July.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared on behalf of Kejriwal, argued that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader did not pose a flight risk, was not a terrorist and that CBI arrested him after he got bail in the Enforcement Directorate’s money-laundering case. Singhvi also referred to an SC judgment on the issue to directly approach the high court.

“Arrested after two years, I get bail and they arrest me now," said Singhvi, speaking for the chief minister in court, and outlining the circumstances of his arrest in an alleged scam first notified 2022.

"I am pressing for some interim relief. He is not a proclaimed offender or a terrorist," the senior advocate added.

Initially, the court seemed to agree with the CBI’s argument that Kejriwal should have filed the bail plea in a trial court. However, it later decided to consider the bail plea directly, based on the merits of the case.

The CBI, represented by advocate D.P. Singh, objected to Kejriwal directly approaching the high court instead of first going to the trial court. “You have the benefit of [the] sessions judge's first hearing. You may succeed there,” the judge had said initially.

Singhvi objected to this, stating that it was nothing but avoidance and requested an early date.

However, the high court agreed to take up the bail plea eventually. "Notice accepted. Petitioner has approached directly before the HC, this contention shall be considered at the time of arguments," said Justice Neena Bansal Krishna in her order.

The AAP leader was arrested by the CBI on 26 June and is currently in judicial custody at Tihar Jail. 

The ED had arrested Kejriwal on 21 March in an alleged money-laundering case. The Supreme Court had granted him interim bail to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, but he had been told to surrender on 2 June. The trial court had granted him bail on 20 June. However, the Delhi High Court stayed the bail order on ED’s request.

On Wednesday, 3 July, the trial court had extended Kejriwal’s judicial custody till 12 July in the money-laundering case filed by the ED.

In 2021, the Delhi government enacted a new liquor policy, which has come under the scanner. It was scrapped in 2022 after the Delhi lieutenant governor ordered a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in its formulation and execution. The investigative agencies have claimed that the new policy extended undue favours to licence holders.

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