No urgent hearing on Arvind Kejriwal’s bail extension plea, matter referred to CJI | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

No urgent hearing on Arvind Kejriwal’s bail extension plea, matter referred to CJI

May 28, 2024 12:40 PM IST

The chief minister, in his fresh plea filed on May 26, said he will surrender before jail authorities on June 9 instead of June 2

The Supreme Court’s vacation bench on Tuesday refused to grant an urgent hearing on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea for an extension of his 21-day interim bail by one week on medical grounds, emphasising that it would be more appropriate for the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to take a decision on the matter given that proceedings in Kejriwal’s petition have already been closed for judgment.

Kejriwal was arrested by the ED on March 21, 2024. (PTI file photo)
Kejriwal was arrested by the ED on March 21, 2024. (PTI file photo)

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief, who was released from judicial custody on May 10 to campaign during the Lok Sabha elections, has been directed by the top court to return to jail on June 2. The results of the elections will be announced on June 4. To be sure, Kejriwal’s plea has made no allusion to that.

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On Tuesday morning, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, mentioned the extension plea before the vacation bench comprising justices JK Maheshwari and KV Viswanathan, highlighting the need for immediate medical examinations, including PET-CT scans and Holter monitoring, to assess potential serious health issues.

Also Read: Delhi CM Kejriwal seeks bail extension in Supreme Court

Arguing the urgency of the situation, Singhvi pressed for a hearing on Wednesday, adding the plea does not prejudice anyone.

However, the bench pointed out that the Supreme Court had reserved its judgment on Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on May 17.

“Wasn’t this a matter heard and reserved on May 17? It’s a ‘heard and reserved’ matter. Probably we are not supposed to do anything in such a matter... We will refer it to Hon’ble CJI. Let the CJI take a decision,” the bench replied.

Singhvi reiterated the urgency of the matter, citing Kejriwal’s recent health complications and the necessity of the diagnostic tests. “I am asking for an extension of only seven days, he is supposed to surrender on June 2. I am saying let me return on June 9,” he said.

But the bench maintained its stance, directing that the matter be brought to the attention of the CJI for a decision on whether to list the plea for an urgent hearing. “Something is required in propriety. So, we will only refer it to the CJI...It would be appropriate to place this matter before the CJI for appropriate orders,” the court held.

The court on Tuesday asked Singhvi why he did not seek an urgent hearing of his plea from a vacation bench, led by justice Dipankar Datta, which sat last week. It was a bench comprising justices Sanjiv Khanna and Datta that had granted interim bail to Kejriwal.

“Why didn’t you mention it last week when justice Datta was here? One of the learned members of the regular bench was available last week. You should have mentioned it before him,” the bench told Singhvi.

Kejriwal was arrested by ED on March 21, 2024, in connection with a money laundering probe related to alleged irregularities in the now-cancelled Delhi excise policy 2021-22. After his challenge to the ED arrest was nixed by the Delhi high court on April 9, the CM moved the Supreme Court.

The top court on May 10 granted Kejriwal temporary bail till June 1, rejecting ED’s argument that his release for political campaigning would imply preferential treatment for politicians, and highlighting the significance of elections in a democracy. The bench of justices Khanna and Datta, however, continued hearing Kejriwal’s petition demanding invalidation of his arrest and reserved its judgment on May 17. The Supreme Court is currently closed for summer break and will reopen on July 8. While vacation benches continue sitting throughout the break, the verdict on Kejriwal’s petition is expected only after the regular functioning resumes in July.

Earlier this week, Kejriwal’s moved an application requesting the court to extend his interim bail by a week, citing “alarming” health complications he endured during his recent incarceration in connection with the Delhi excise Policy case and the urgent need for medical tests.

“The appellant (Kejriwal) prays for an extension of his interim bail by a week, during which the appellant can get the prescribed tests done and obtain results of the same. The appellant will get all these tests done in the working week from 3.06.2024 (Monday) to 7.6.2024 (Friday) and then surrender on the weekend, i.e. 9.06.2024,” stated the CM’s plea.

According to the application, Kejriwal suffered substantial health deterioration during his custody from March 21 until May 10, partly due to the “negligent behaviour” of jail authorities. The plea notes a weight loss of approximately 6-7 kilograms, which he has been unable to regain despite resuming his previous lifestyle. Moreover, recent medical tests revealed elevated blood glucose and ketone levels, suggesting potential kidney-related complications and damage, Kejriwal said.

Despite these alarming health issues, the application contends, Kejriwal has only managed to undergo a health check-up at home by a senior physician from Max Hospitals. Following this examination, the physician prescribed a series of comprehensive tests to assess Kejriwal’s health condition before his surrender.

The application emphasised the importance of these tests, including whole-body PET-CT scans and Holter Monitor Tests, in diagnosing potential ailments such as kidney damage, cardiac irregularities and even cancer.

In his petition before the top court, the Delhi CM also painted a picture of a politically motivated witch hunt orchestrated by the ruling BJP at the Centre and emphasising the wider implications of his arrest for democratic governance and the rule of law in India.

Kejriwal was the third AAP leader arrested in the excise policy case. Former Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia was arrested in this case on February 23, 2023, and remains incarcerated. AAP MP Sanjay Singh was however released on bail on April 2.

On May 16, when the Supreme Court on May 16 heard Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest, it firmly refuted ED’s contention that granting interim bail to Kejriwal and agreeing to examine the legality of his arrest was an “exceptional” exercise, emphasising that all individuals, irrespective of their status, are entitled to pursue the same legal recourse and remedies.

Stating that the right to seek judicial review of an arrest are fundamental legal entitlements available to every citizen, the bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta maintained that the Constitution gave people right to approach constitutional courts directly assailing arbitrary or illegal detention. At the same time, the court reiterated its May 10 order, clarifying that Kejriwal will have to surrender on June 2 after the completion of the 21-day interim bail granted to him for campaigning.

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