On Arvind Kejriwal's Bail Plea, Probe Agency's "Health Doesn't Hinder" Jab

The Enforcement Directorate opposed Arvind Kejriwal's bail pleas, arguing the Delhi Chief Minister, who is out campaigning for the AAP, seemed to be in fine health.

On Arvind Kejriwal's Bail Plea, Probe Agency's 'Health Doesn't Hinder' Jab

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (File).

New Delhi:

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal - on interim bail following his arrest in the alleged liquor policy scam - began his battle for regular bail Thursday afternoon in the city's Rouse Avenue Court.

He has filed two pleas - for normal bail, and to extend the Supreme Court-ordered interim bail by a week, citing a battery of pending medical tests over potential "health complications" from his diabetes.

In the brief hearing that followed the Enforcement Directorate opposed both pleas. The federal agency sought at least two days to respond and took a swipe at the bail plea on health grounds.

The ED pointed out Mr Kejriwal - whom party sources told NDTV has led 67 rallies or roadshows and given 30 interviews since his release on interim bail - seemed to be in fine condition. The agency also seemed irked by the AAP leader filing his pleas a little over 48 hours before the bail period expires.

"He is not in custody... he is, today, in Punjab campaigning. His health does not hinder him from campaigning... and he moves bail on the last date so we get very little time (to argue)," the ED said.

"His conduct doesn't entitle him for any orders today," Additional Solicitor-General SV Raju, appearing for the central agency, told the court, which gave the ED time till 2 pm Saturday to respond.

The Rouse Avenue Court is also due to rule (on June 4, on counting day) on a point of cognisance on the ED's supplementary chargesheet, which is linked to an associated money laundering case.

READ | Ready To Go To Jail 100 Times To Save Country: Arvind Kejriwal

Mr Kejriwal has been singularly active since his release from jail, leading his party's charge (and contributing to that of the Congress-led INDIA bloc) ahead of polling in Delhi and Punjab. 

READ | "Give All 13 Seats To AAP": Kejriwal's Appeal To Punjab Voters

These are the states where the AAP is in power and send a combined 20 MPs to the Lok Sabha, but the curious case of the alliance with the Congress remains a point of interest. The parties are contesting together in Delhi but as rivals in Punjab, where state leaders have taken regular potshots at each other.

Meanwhile, Mr Kejriwal's regular release plea today is key since it is the first time he has actively applied for bail. His interim release this month was ordered by the Supreme Court as it was hearing his challenge to the ED's arrest. The court recognised him as an elected leader and not a habitual offender.

READ | Kejriwal Gets Big Supreme Court Relief. Interim Bail Till June 1

Mr Kejriwal's interim bail expires June 1, or on completion of polling for the final phase of the Lok Sabha election. He is to report to Delhi's Tihar Jail authorities 24 hours after that, i.e., June 2. On Tuesday he asked the top court to extend his freedom by seven days so he could finish the tests.

However, the court refused an urgent hearing and also seemed put out by the timing.

It was pointed out the plea could have been filed last week, when Justice Datta - part of the bench that granted interim bail - was hearing cases. "Why did you not mention this (then)...?" the court asked.

Mr Kejriwal was, though, given leave to move the lower court at this time, which he did this afternoon.

In earlier arguments Mr Kejriwal had underlined the row between himself and jail authorities over the supply of insulin. His AAP had claimed he was deliberately deprived of the "life-saving" drug.

READ | "Asking For Insulin Daily": Kejriwal's Letter To Jail Officials

That row also reached the courts after Arvind Kejriwal criticised Tihar jail and ED officials for being "petty" and "politicising" his well-being. The probe agency responded by claiming the Chief Minister had deliberately consumed foods high in sugar - like mangoes and toffees, in alleged violation of a prescribed diet chart - to place his health at risk and establish grounds for medical bail.

READ | Kejriwal Claims Tihar Officials' "Negligence" Took Toll On Health

"My health condition is due partly to the insensitive behaviour of the prison authorities. One more week of bail will allow me to take stock of (possible) health complications," he had argued.

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