New Delhi, May 23: A court today prolonged Arvind Kejriwal’s jail stay by another two weeks when he again refused to sign a bail bond even after the judge had chided him for “legal illiteracy” and asked him to be “sensible”.
Later, the Aam Aadmi Party released a letter from Kejriwal to the public that stressed how he had faced “police brutality” and jail in his crusade against corruption, trying to win sympathy at a time of falling credibility.
On Wednesday, Kejriwal had been sent to two days’ judicial custody after refusing to sign a Rs 10,000 bail bond in a defamation suit stemming from his “corrupt” label on BJP leader Nitin Gadkari. His remand was today extended till June 6.
Kejriwal had reiterated that he was ready to give an undertaking to answer every court summons but not to sign a bond that will allow the money to be recovered from a guarantor if he disappeared. He has been arguing he was allowed such a concession in previous defamation suits.
“Other magistrates may have accepted your undertaking; I am not bound by them. I have gone by the book and you are welcome to challenge the order,” metropolitan magistrate Gomati Manocha said.
She questioned Kejriwal’s knowledge of the law, saying: “There is a lot of legal illiteracy in the country. Even educated people do not know about legal proceedings. I expect you to be more sensible.”
The judge pointed out that signing the bond would not entail paying any money right away. “It will only act as a surety in case he absconds,” she said.
Kejriwal has been arguing he would not sign the bond since he has done nothing wrong.
“You have been summoned as an accused. You cannot say that I am innocent and I will not give bail bond. This is a procedure,” the judge said.
The AAP said it might challenge the ruling in the high court. It posted a tweet on its leader’s behalf, saying: “I am in jail for fighting corruption and Nitin Gadkari is roaming free.”
Kejriwal’s letter, written in Hindi, was released in the evening. “I have decided to devote my life to the fight against corruption,” it said.
“In this struggle I have gone hungry, faced police brutality, faced insult and I am now in jail. Your (people’s) support is my strength. Pray for me.”
Kejriwal’s move comes at a time his party faces a crisis after failing to win a single Lok Sabha seat in Delhi, its supposed base. Kejriwal himself lost from Varanasi.
Party volunteers have demanded the dissolution of the party’s top decision-making body, the political affairs committee, alleging it was acting unilaterally. The leaders have had a tough time assuaging angry volunteers.
A few party leaders have written to Kejriwal accusing him of aping the “high command” culture of the Congress and the BJP. A party member has written to all the senior leaders demanding a wider meeting to discuss the “failure of the party”.
“(The) party is going to collapse due to touts, political agents, opportunists and high command culture…. National council and founder members are being expelled without any showcause notice.… Is this the way to achieve swaraj?” the letter says.
With the ranks angry or demoralised, the party has failed to organise protests against Kejriwal being sent to jail. The party’s official excuse is that it has decided on a door-to-door campaign instead of dharnas.