India’s top court grants temporary bail to Delhi’s chief minister in excise policy case

An Enforcement Directorate team leaves with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to Rouse Avenue Court before a hearing in New Delhi, India, March 28, 2024. /CFP

An Enforcement Directorate team leaves with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to Rouse Avenue Court before a hearing in New Delhi, India, March 28, 2024. /CFP

India’s top court on Friday granted interim bail to jailed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal until June 1 in the excise policy case.

The latest move would allow Kejriwal to campaign for his party and the opposition alliance, of which he is a key leader, in the ongoing general election in India.

As per court directive, Kejriwal will have to surrender on June 2 and return to jail.

India is in the middle of a staggered seven-phase general election that began on April 19. So far, three phases have been held, and the last phase is scheduled for June 1. The counting of votes is scheduled for June 4.

Kejriwal was arrested by the federal government’s financial crime-fighting agency, the Enforcement Directorate, in March on charges of corruption related to direct involvement in the formulation of the excise policy that allegedly favored specific individuals.

Several key leaders of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), headed by Kejriwal, were imprisoned in connection with the case. The AAP rejects any wrongdoing and says their leaders have been “falsely arrested” in a “fabricated case.”

The AAP has been governing India’s national capital territory for around a decade. It also governs the northern Indian state of Punjab.

The AAP is part of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), a grouping led by the Congress party. The INDIA alliance was formed to challenge the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the ongoing general election.

(With input from Xinhua)