Kejriwal (second left) being brought to Rouse Avenue Court in New Delhi on APril 1, 2024. Image Credit: ANI

An Indian court renewed detention on Monday for key opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal until April 15 in a graft case, his lawyers said, less than three weeks before voting begins in general elections.

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In a move that sparked protests last month, India’s financial crime-fighting agency arrested Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi, over graft accusations related to the city’s liquor policy and he was remanded to custody until April 1.

Kejriwal will be lodged in Jail Number 2 of Tihar Jail, sources said. Kejriwal has become the first sitting Chief Minister to be lodged in Tihar Jail.

Schedule in Tihar: Up at 6:30am, dal, chapati and sabzi for lunch
Kejriwal has been taken to Tihar Jail for the third time. In 2014, he was taken to jail during the protests led by Anna Hazare and over a defamation case.
According to sources, Kejriwal will have to wake up around 6:30am, he will be served breakfast at 6:40, which will be a bread slice and tea.
For lunch, he can get either chapati or rice with dal and sabzi. There is also a provision for Medical diet as prescribed by doctors.
“Kejriwal will have to go back to his cell at noon and stay there till 3pm. After the tea break, he can meet his lawyers at 4pm. Dinner is served at around 6:30pm, which can be taken to their cell,” they added while adding that he will only be allowed to watch government channels.
Arvind Kejriwal has given a list of six people whom he can meet during his imprisonment at Tihar.
Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 by the Enforcement Directorate about the excise policy case and has spent 10 days in ED custody, after court direction.
Meanwhile, the Court directed Tihar Jail authorities to allow Kejriwal to carry prescribed medicine and books.
The court also asked authorities to provide one table and chair, a religious locket, and a special diet as prescribed by the doctors, as per the jail manual.
Kejriwal, through his lawyers, moved an application and sought permission to carry several books, including Bagwad Geeta, Ramayana, and a book titled “How Prime Minister Decided”, authored by Neerja Chaudhary.
During the hearing, Atishi, Saurabh Bharadwaj, and Gopal Rai remain present in the courtroom. Arvind Kejriwal’s wife also attended the court proceedings. -- ANI

Lawyers for the agency, the Enforcement Directorate, said on Monday that Kejriwal had been non-cooperative and gave evasive replies, asking the court to hold him in custody for 15 days longer, the website Live Law said.

“These people have only one aim, they want to put him in prison during the elections,” Kejriwal’s wife, Sunita, told reporters, referring to Modi’s government.

Breather for Congress

“The people will give a response to this dictatorship.” BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said the court’s decision, based on concrete evidence, raised moral and constitutional questions.

The arrest of the high-profile leader set off protests in the capital and the northern state of Punjab, ruled by his party.

The court’s decision comes a day after a New Delhi rally by the INDIA bloc, an alliance of 27 opposition parties including AAP, to protest against Kejriwal’s arrest, where they accused Modi of seeking to rig the elections.

Regional groups are among the opposition parties also facing action by federal agencies, which they have called politically motivated.

The main opposition Congress party has been hit with large income tax demands it described as a bid to cripple it financially before the elections, an accusation the BJP has denied.

On Monday, in a breather for Congress, tax authorities told the Supreme Court they would not pursue a demand for a tax payment of 35 billion rupees ($420 million) until after the elections.

The party has gone to court to challenge the tax demand, which is in addition to 1.35 billion rupees it has already paid.