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India: Opposition figure Kejriwal granted bail

June 20, 2024

Arvind Kejriwal has been granted bail in his ongoing corruption probe. His supporters have questioned the reasons behind his initial arrest.

Arvind Kejriwal sat in the back of a car
Kejriwal was detained over alleged money laundering in a liquor policy scamImage: Hindustan Times/IMAGO

Arvind Kejriwal, one of the key figures of the Indian opposition and a major critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been granted bail in his ongoing corruption case on Thursday.

A court ruled that the Delhi chief minister could be released after rejecting a request from the Enforcement Directorate, India's financial crime investigation agency, to hold the decision for 48 hours.

The 55-year-old is expected to leave the Tihar Prison in Delhi once his bail bond is paid.

Kejriwal was arrested in March ahead of India's weekslong election. He was granted temporary bail by the Supreme Court in May to campaign in the elections, but returned to jail at the beginning of June.

His supporters called his detention a "political conspiracy" by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Why was Kejriwal arrested?

The Enforcement Directorate arrested Kejriwal on March 21 on corruption charges. He has continuously rejected the accusations.

The lawmaker's opposition party Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was accused by the government-controlled agency of accepting 1 billion rupees ($11.9 million, €11.05 million) in bribes over a 2021 liquor sale policy.

Modi's government has rejected claims that the arrest was politically motivated, coming as it did just before the parliamentary elections. The BJP-led coalition won the election, but with a much lower majority than expected and lower than in the previous election.

The incident also drew international condemnation. Delhi summoned German and US diplomats over their comments. Several other opposition politicians have also been caught up in corruption allegations, which they claim are aimed at weakening potential challengers to Modi.

Kejriwal launched the AAP, which translates as Common Man's Party, with a pledge to rid the political system of corruption and inefficiency. He has been the chief minister for the Indian capital region for over a decade.

ab/lo (Reuters, AP)

Editors note: An earlier headlined described Kejriwal as the leader of the opposition, he is a leading figure in the opposition.