A Delhi court on Friday extended the judicial custody of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal till June 6 after the leader, for the second time, refused to secure bail in a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by senior BJP leader and MP Nitin Gadkari.
Arvind Kejriwal, the head of the Aam Aadmi (AAP), looks out from inside his car as he arrives at local court in New Delhi . (Reuters)
Kejriwal, who was sent to custody on May 21 for refusing to furnish a personal bond of `10,000, was produced before metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha, in a courtroom that was swelling with supporters from AAP and BJP.
Speaking for himself in the court, Kejriwal said he was trying to understand what his fault was and that lots of politicians had filed such cases against him.
In keeping with his previous stance, Kejriwal told the court that he would not furnish a bail bond because he was “innocent” and “had done nothing wrong.” He reiterated that he wanted to give an undertaking to appear at every hearing instead.
However, the court said it could not be “thrown to the winds” at the whims and fancies of litigants.
The metropolitan magistrate tried to explain the concept of bail to the AAP leader, saying “I am bound by judgments of higher courts” and can’t go beyond the provisions of law. “If other leaders of the party can furnish bond to secure bail, why can Kejriwal not do the same?” she asked.
“You have been summoned to answer the case against you, you are not convicted of anything yet,” the metropolitan magistrate explained to the former Delhi CM.
The court also lamented the “legal illiteracy” rampant in the nation, saying most people had no idea that an accused only paid the cash required in a personal bond if he failed to turn up when summoned, and not before.
Refusing to review its earlier order, the court said Kejriwal was welcome to challenge its decision at the correct forum.
In a free for all, a number of lawyers were seen yelling out of turn and interrupting the magistrate. In the din, former law minister Shanti Bhushan, who had appeared for Kejriwal, could barely be heard as he argued that in such cases — where the accused has not been arrested — there was no requirement to furnish a bail bond.
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Gadkari’s senior counsel Pinki Anand opposed Bhushan’s contentions, saying criminal courts cannot review their order.
She further pointed out that 59 AAP workers, including Yogendra Yadav, had secured bail the day before from another trial court in order to obtain their release.
The court said as Kejriwal had refused to furnish the bail bond or even personal bond without surety, it was constrained to take him into custody for two weeks, and fixed June 6 as the next date of hearing. It has also issued directions that Gadkari must be present on the next date
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AAP volunteers hold protest against Kejriwal's detention