"No reason for special treatment": ED tells Supreme Court opposing interim bail to Arvind Kejriwal

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"Grant of interim bail merely for political campaigning would militate against and will be discriminatory to the rule of equality as work/business/ profession or activity of every citizen is equally important to him or her....", court has been told

The Enforcement Directorate has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court of India opposing the grant of interim bail to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to campaign for Aam Aadmi Party in the General Elections, 2024.

ED's affidavit comes in a day before the top court is all set to pronounce the orders on grant of relief to Kejriwal.

Arguing that under Prevention of Money Laundering Act alone presently there are many politicians who are in judicial custody, the ED submits there is no reason why a special prayer for a special treatment by Kejriwal must be acceded to.

Filed through Deputy Director Bhanu Priya Meena, the affidavit states the right to campaign for an election is neither a fundamental right nor a constitutional right and not even a legal right. 

"To the knowledge of the deponent no political leader has been granted interim bail for campaigning even though he is not the
contesting candidate. Even a contesting candidate is not granted interim bail if he is in custody for his own campaigning.... Even the right to vote while in judicial custody which is considered by this Court as a statutory/constitutional right, is curtailed by statute by virtue of section 62(5) of the Representation of Peoples Act,...",
the top court has been told.

It has further been argued that if interim bail is to be granted for the purpose of campaigning in an election, then no politician can be arrested and kept in judicial custody.

If the Supreme Court grants interim bail to Kejriwal, ED says it will be giving judicial imprimatur to the following actions of the petitioner: Firstly to avoid summons citing the reason of campaigning in state elections being a “star campaigner” of the Aam Aadmi Party and Aecond, seek interim bail for campaigning for Aam Aadmi Party in the general elections thereby carving out a separate
class in favour of politicians who wish to campaign for their respective political parties.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta recently argued vehemently against the grant of interim bail to Kejriwal saying an impression was being created that heavens would fall if he is not allowed to campaign.

"Please do not earmark political leaders as a separate class, there are Managing Directors who are in jail, they can say my company is in doldrums..the impression is created that he has not done anything and during elections he is picked up..PLEASE DO NOT CONSIDER FOR ANY INTERIM RELIEF..", SG Mehta had further told a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta.

Last week, Supreme Court had said it would be considering the question of interim bail to Kejriwal owing to the Elections. Court had earlier also questioned Enforcement Directorate on the time gap between initiation of investigation and the following arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor scam case.

On April 29, the Supreme Court began hearing Delhi Chief Minister 's SLP challenging the Delhi High Court's dismissal of his petition contesting his arrest by the ED in the liquor policy scam.

Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 late evening. He has been in ED's custody since. ED had conducted searches at Delhi Chief Minister's residence following the Delhi High Court's decision to deny him protection from coercive action in an excise policy-related money laundering case.

The case against Kejriwal & allies involves allegations of corruption and money laundering in the formulation and execution of Delhi's excise policy for 2021-22, which was later scrapped. 

Meanwhile, upon arrest, outside Kejriwal's residence, a crowd gathered, including AAP MLAs and party leaders, protesting the ED's actions. AAP leaders criticized the BJP and ED, alleging political conspiracy and misuse of power to target Kejriwal.