Arvind Kejriwal to start high-security jail sentence

Head of the Aam Aadmi Party is accused of accepting bribes to influence legislation

Arvind Kejriwal, an opponent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he would return to jail on June 2 as his bail conditions demand. AFP
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Delhi's embattled chief minister Arvind Kejriwal surrendered to the city’s high-security jail after his 21-day-long interim bail in an alleged corruption case ended on Sunday. He said he “campaigned to save the country”.

Mr Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party administers India's capital region, was arrested in March by the enforcement directorate, the federal financial crimes police, for accepting bribes of about 1 billion rupees (around $11 million).

“Supreme Court had given an extension of 21 days, I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Mr Kejriwal was arrested in March by the enforcement directorate, the federal financial crimes police, on charges of accepting bribes of about 1 billion rupees (about $12 million) to pass an alcohol policy favourable to private businesses. The 55-year-old politician has denied any wrongdoing.

He was held in Tihar jail on April 1 and was given an interim bail by the country’s Supreme Court on May 10 given the national elections where his party was contesting across several states.

He appealed to the top court for a bail extension by a week citing health issues but the court refused the urgent listing of the case.

He has appealed to a special court for bail to hear the matter on June 5.

Mr Kejriwal claimed his arrest was “illegal” and carried out at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his main political rival.

He was a star campaigner for the INDIA bloc, an alliance of opposition parties that fought against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in recently held elections.

He held extensive campaigns during the bail period, often citing his arrest as an example of Mr Modi’s authoritarianism.

Mr Modi’s rivals accuse the leader of persecuting opposition politicians and a political witch-hunt.

The federal agency claimed that Mr Kejriwal was a “kingpin” in the alleged fraud and told the court that he was “non-co-operative” while in custody.

Several politicians, including Mr Kejriwal's party colleagues such as Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, have remained in custody pending trial over the alleged scheme that would have seen the government’s exit from the alcohol business.

The Delhi alcohol policy was aimed at privatising the liquor business in 2021. Officials said it was intended to increase revenue and eliminate the black marketing of spirits.

It was cancelled by the government after the allegations emerged, with most of the 849 private alcohol shops shutting.

Mr Kejriwal had been summoned several times for questioning but ignored the summons, claiming they were “illegal”.

The agency has claimed that 450 million rupees of kickbacks were used to fund the AAP in the Goa and Punjab state elections in 2022

Updated: June 02, 2024, 1:40 PM