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  • 22 Jul, 2024

Indian opposition leader denied bail shortly before release

Indian opposition leader denied bail shortly before release

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in custody in alcohol scam case

The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed a court order from the previous day that granted bail to Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of the National Capital Region and leader of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Kejriwal was arrested in March, weeks before the general election, on corruption charges related to an alleged tax-related liquor scandal. The politician has not been convicted, but his case will continue while Kejriwal serves as Delhi's acting chief minister.

On Thursday, the court ordered Kejriwal to post bail of 100,000 rupees (about $1,200). Conditions included that he cannot disrupt investigations or influence witnesses in the case. But hours after granting bail, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a domestic business news agency, moved the Supreme Court to reject the possibility of bail. Indian media said the final decision is expected to be announced early next week.

Hours before Kejriwal left his house, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the federal financial crimes branch that arrested him in March, challenged the bail.

The court that granted CM bail had earlier noted that the ED had failed to produce direct evidence linking Kejriwal to "proceeds of crime" and therefore failed to prove his guilt. But the ED argued that bail was granted without giving the directorate sufficient opportunity to present its case. Kejriwal was arrested on corruption charges related to Delhi's now-repealed alcohol policy. The ED alleged that Kejriwal accepted bribes from liquor dealers and used them to fund his party's poll campaign in Goa, southern India.

The opposition leader denied the allegations and claimed he was being persecuted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Notably, Kejriwal was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court of India in May for campaigning in the recently concluded general elections. He was returned to custody on June 2, a day after the final phase of voting ended. Kejriwal's AAP is part of the Indian National Movement.

The Alliance for Comprehensive Development (IND) is an opposition alliance that, contrary to popular expectations, won more than 200 seats in the 543-seat lower house of parliament.

Despite losing a clear majority, the BJP was able to form a coalition government with the support of its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies.

Members of the Indian Alliance alleged that the arrest was an attempt by the Modi government to deny equal opportunities to the opposition. After Kejriwal's bail request was rejected, AAP leader Sanjay Singh alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a "mockery" of the judicial system.