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“Have patience for 24-48 hours”: Supreme Court refuses to reverse HC order staying Arvind Kejriwal’s bail

“If HC has committed a mistake, why should we repeat it at our end?", Justice Misra asked in response.

On Monday (24th June), the Supreme Court refused to grant immediate relief to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in his bid to reverse the High Court’s interim stay on a bail order given by a lower court last week. A vacation bench comprising Justices Manoj Misra and SVN Bhatti said it would like to wait for the High Court’s decision on the matter.

In place of issuing an order on Kejriwal’s plea today, the Supreme Court chose to defer it till June 26 to await the High Court’s final ruling. The Apex Court stated that it does not want to “pre-judge” the issue while the High Court’s order on the Enforcement Directorate’s stay application.

“If we pass order now, we will prejudge the issue. This is not a subordinate court…”, the Supreme Court said.

Representing Delhi CM Kejriwal, lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi contended that the “balance of convenience” favours Kejriwal since there is no reasonable ground for the Delhi CM to stay in jail. “If bail is reversed, he will certainly go back to jail… as he did after the Supreme Court’s interim release to campaign for the Lok Sabha election,” Singhvi argued.

Emphasising that the top court in its previous bail order has acknowledged that Kejriwal is not a “habitual offender” with no criminal antecedents, Singhvi said that since Kejriwal has a judgment in his favour, he should be allowed to stay out of jail in the interim.

Singhvi gave this argument when the court asked Kejriwal to remain patient for 24-48 hours till the High Court pronounces its order.

Notably, On 21st June, Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain and Ravinder Daudeja of the High Court issued an interim stay on the trial court’s ruling granting bail to CM Kejriwal. Today, the Supreme Court bench remarked that the High Court reserving order in stay cases is “unusual” adding that orders in such cases are given on the spot.

“In stay matters, judgments are not reserved but passed on the spot. What has happened here it is a bit unusual. We will have it day after,” the Supreme Court said.

To this, Singhvi argued that if the High Court can stay the lower court order from coming into effect without seeing it, why the Supreme Court judges can’t do the same. “If the HC can stay it without seeing the order, why can’t your lordships stay the HC order,” Singhvi argued.

The apex court, however, emphasised that it will not make the same mistake as the High Court, and deferred the hearing in the matter to 26th June when the High Court will announce its final order on ED’s application opposing the lower court’s order granting bail to the AAP supremo. “If HC has committed a mistake, why should we repeat it at our end?”, Justice Misra asked in response.

“The order impugned in this SLP is an order by which, after hearing the counsel of the parties, the order was reserved on the stay application, and till that, the operation of the bail order stayed. A perusal of the stay order would reveal that the parties were given the opportunity to file a short submission by 24th June 2024…Additional Solicitor General submits that the order on the stay application would be passed shortly and it would be appropriate if this Court adjourns the matter so that there is an opportunity…” the Supreme Court said.

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