Indian court extends pre-trial detention of opposition leader Kejriwal


An Indian city court extended on Tuesday the pre-trial detention of opposition leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal until May 20, legal news website Live Law reported, weeks before the capital votes in national elections.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), India's financial crime-fighting agency, arrested Kejriwal - a staunch critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi - on March 21 in connection with corruption allegations relating to Delhi's liquor policy, charges he and his party have denied.

He has been in prison since April 1, along with two other senior leaders of his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who have also been arrested in the same case, hurting his party's election campaign.

In a separate hearing on Tuesday, the Supreme Court considered giving temporary bail to Kejriwal to allow him to campaign in the national elections which began on April 19 and conclude on June 1.

Kejriwal has argued that he has been targeted by Modi's government just before elections to prevent him from campaigning, accusations the government has denied.

Kejriwal's lawyers told the top court that he was a serving chief minister and not a "habitual offender" and deserved to be released to campaign.

ED lawyers opposed this, saying that giving bail to Kejriwal just to campaign would indicate that there were different judicial standards for politicians and other citizens.

The hearing is expected to continue on Thursday.

Kejriwal's arrest has been criticized by the INDIA alliance of more than two dozen opposition parties who have said such action against opposition leaders aims to deny them a level playing field in the polls, accusations Modi and BJP reject.

India began voting in a seven-phase election on April 19, with the third phase underway on Tuesday. New Delhi will vote on May 25.

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