New Delhi: After Arvind Kejriwal and other members of his political party steadfastly refused to apply for bail, a court in Delhi said they will not be arrested because they have promised to attend future hearings of the case that charges them with defying police orders to protest at the Prime Minister's house in August.
The next hearing is scheduled for February 23.
Mr Kejriwal, despite being urged by the judge to argue his case, said he would rather go to jail than apply for bail because he believes he is being politically persecuted for taking on the government. Mr Kejriwal was wearing his "main hoon aam aadmi" topi in court.
"We confess to violating Section 144," he said defiantly court. Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code bans groups larger than five from gathering as a precaution for maintaining law and order.
The co-founder of Mr Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan told the judge, "The imposition of Section 144 is a violation of fundamental rights to protest peacefully in a democracy."
In August last year, Mr Kejriwal and his associates led a demonstration towards Dr Manmohan Singh's home demanding his resignation over an alleged coal scam. A report by the government's auditor or CAG said that the country had lost upto 1.856 lakh crores because coal fields had been allotted to private firms without adequate transparency. For three of the four years in question, the Prime Minister held direct charge of the Coal Ministry.
Coal-Gate, as it was named, adrenalised Mr Kejriwal's campaign against the government, which he charges with indefatigable corruption. The police had at the time banned large groups from gathering near the PM's home.