Arvind Kejriwal's plea for 7-day extension of interim bail denied by Supreme Court [28.5.2024]

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) will decide on the urgent listing of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's plea, seeking a seven-day extension of his interim bail for medical tests, as the verdict in the main case is already reserved.

In a hearing presided over by Justices JK Maheshwari and KV Viswanathan, the vacation bench declined to list Kejriwal's interim plea independently. Instead, they inquired of senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing the chief minister, why the matter wasn't raised last week when Justice Dipankar Datta, one of the judges from the main bench that granted Kejriwal interim bail, was part of the vacation bench.

"Why did you not mention it when Justice Datta was sitting on the vacation bench last week? Let the Hon'ble CJI take a decision as it raises the issue of propriety...we will send it to the CJI," the bench said.

Singhvi explained that the prescription for medical tests was given a day before yesterday, thus precluding its mention before the vacation bench that included Justice Datta last week.

"I don't mind if it is listed before that bench [of Justice Khanna and Justice Datta], even virtually," Singhvi added.

"Since the bench of Justices Khanna and Datta, which granted interim bail till June 1 to Kejriwal, have reserved the verdict on the main petition, it would be appropriate to place his time extension application before the CJI for appropriate orders," the bench said in its order.

Kejriwal, in his plea filed on May 26, sought an extension of his interim bail by seven days to undergo a series of medical tests, including a PET-CT scan, due to sudden and unexplained weight loss and high ketone levels.

"These may be symptoms of some serious disease. Max Hospital doctors examined him. He needs to undergo a PET-CT scan and many other tests. He has sought seven days to get the investigations done," AAP said.

Earlier, on May 10, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta had granted Kejriwal interim bail till June 1 to facilitate his participation in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, the order mandated Kejriwal, who faces charges related to the Delhi excise policy scam case, to surrender on June 2, post the election activities.

Senior Advocate A M Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, had previously appealed for additional time, citing the imminent election results on June 4. Despite the plea's urgency, the court declined to extend the interim relief, adhering strictly to legal protocol.

During a subsequent hearing on May 16, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Enforcement Directorate (ED), raised objections to Kejriwal's purported remarks suggesting a correlation between electoral outcomes and his legal fate. Mehta highlighted Kejriwal's statement, "If you vote for the broom [AAP election symbol], then I will not have to go to jail," expressing concern over its implications on judicial integrity.

He added, "This is a slap on the system. That if you vote for me, then I will not have to go to jail on the 2nd [of June]. How can that happen?"

Justice Datta said, "That [returning to jail on June 2] is our order." Justice Khanna, too, said, "That [he will not have to return to jail] is an assumption… Our order is very clear."

He added it is "the direction of the court which should matter."

Amidst legal exchanges, Singhvi countered Mehta's assertions, hinting at potential revelations concerning a high-ranking government official without explicitly naming anyone. "If he [Mehta] is going to file an affidavit, I will file an affidavit about a top minister of this government," Singhvi said.

The intricacies of Kejriwal's case drew national attention, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah remarking on May 15 that the grant of interim bail was not a routine judgment, hinting at perceived preferential treatment.

In response, Justice Khanna reiterated the court's commitment to upholding the rule of law, stating, "As far as our order, it is very clear. We have fixed the timelines. We have said that on so and so date, he is on bail, on so and so date, he has to surrender. That is it. Our order is an order of the court. And that is an order of the apex court. If the rule of law is to be governed, it will be governed by that."

28 May 2024