Delhi HC seeks Tihar reply to Kejriwal's plea for additional meetings with lawyers

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Arvind Kejriwal Tihar Jail

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court asked Tihar Jail authorities on Monday to respond to a plea of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, arrested in Delhi excise scam cases, seeking additional virtual meetings with his lawyers.

Justice Neena Bansal Krishna granted the prison authorities five days to file a reply and listed the matter for argument on July 15.

Kejriwal has challenged a trial court's July 1 order rejecting his application for directions to the prison authorities to grant him two additional meetings in a week with his lawyers through video conference.

At present, the jailed Aam Aadmi Party national convener is allowed two meetings with his lawyers per week.

Kejriwal's lawyer contended that the AAP leader was facing around 35 litigations across the country and on grounds of the right to a fair trial, he required two additional meetings with his lawyers via video conference to discuss the cases.

The counsel for the Enforcement Directorate also said that he wanted to file a reply to the plea.

On being asked by the court what was the objection to the plea, the lawyer representing the jail authorities submitted that the rule is the same for all and a prisoner is entitled to two meetings with his or her advocate in a week.

He added all the 35 cases were not being heard simultaneously in a week and so, there was no need for additional meetings.

The trial court rejected the plea, saying the counsel for the applicant had failed to convince the court on how the applicant was entitled to two additional legal meetings through video conference on the same grounds which have been discussed and dealt with in an earlier order.

In separate petitions, Kejriwal has challenged his arrest in the corruption case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the alleged excise policy scam and also sought bail.

Both the petitions are pending before the high court.

The AAP leader was arrested by the CBI on June 26 from Tihar Jail, where he is still lodged in judicial custody in a connected money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Kejriwal, who was arrested by the ED on March 21, was granted bail by the trial court in the money laundering case on June 20. However, the trial court's order was stayed by the high court.

The excise policy was scrapped in 2022 after the Delhi lieutenant governor ordered a CBI probe into alleged irregularities and corruption involving its formulation and execution.

According to the CBI and ED, irregularities were committed while modifying the excise policy and undue favours extended to licence holders.