Lawyers who shaped AAP’s legal defence over the years

In its short history, AAP has engaged seasoned criminal law practitioners to defend its leaders in the multitude of cases filed against them.
AAP legal team
AAP legal team

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) recently alleged that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have filed over 230 cases against its leaders, at the behest of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the wake of these cases, the party has had to spend considerable resources on litigation before the courts, including in the cases related to the recent arrest of its National Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The party and its politicians have fought mulitple cases - none of which have even reached the stage of trial - before courts in the national capital. 

HIGHLIGHTED CASES AGAINST AAP, LEADERS
HIGHLIGHTED CASES AGAINST AAP, LEADERSBar and Bench

Defending them against these allegations has been a team of lawyers, including some of the most sought-after names in the legal fraternity.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi

Singhvi is at the forefront of the party’s current battles before the courts. The Senior Advocate has been representing the Delhi Chief Minister before the Delhi High Court as well as the special court hearing the Delhi Excise Policy case, in which key AAP leaders are implicated.

He had also appeared for jailed AAP leader Satyendar Jain before the Supreme Court, and was instrumental in getting interim medical bail for the former Minister.

It was Singhvi who argued for another senior party leader, Sanjay Singh, and obtained bail for him in the Delhi Excise Policy case.

Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi
Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi

Singhvi appearing for AAP leaders right from the Supreme Court all the way down to the trial court demonstrates the party's valiant efforts to get its top leader out of jail before the elections. Although Singhvi has made strong arguments on the impropriety of Kejriwal's arrest, he is yet to obtain relief for the Delhi CM.

Kapil Sibal

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal
Senior Advocate Kapil SibalX

The legal veteran and former Union Minister appeared for jailed AAP leader Satyendar Jain in a money laundering case in 2022. Jain, who returned to Tihar Jail after the Supreme Court denied him bail recently, is facing charges of laundering money through shell companies.  

At the time, when the ED sought transfer of the case to another judge citing bias, Sibal made a rare appearance and led the defence’s attack in the Rouse Avenue Court.

When the prosecution in that case sought to transfer the trial, Sibal made a strong pitch, dismissing it as an attempt to “send a message to the judiciary that if you disagree to us this is what will happen”. Sibal’s arguments did not, however, garner a favourable direction.

N Hariharan

Senior Advocate N Hariharan
Senior Advocate N Hariharan

In 2018, the alleged assault case of then Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash had made headlines. Prakash, a 1986 batch bureaucrat, alleged that he was manhandled at the hands of AAP MLAs during a meeting at the residence of Chief Minister Kejriwal. 

The Delhi Police swung into action and booked a dozen AAP MLAs including Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia on charges of assault. 

It was Hariharan who argued for Kejriwal and got him a reprieve.

More recently, Hariharan contested the ED’s money laundering case for Satyendar Jain, vehemently questioning how these charges can be attributed to his client. 

Apart from Kejriwal and Jain, the senior criminal lawyer has defended AAP MLA Somnath Bharti and other functionaries in the past and remains a consistent face of the party’s legal defence.

Rahul Mehra

Advocates Rahul Mehra and Rishikesh Kumar
Advocates Rahul Mehra and Rishikesh KumarX

Before he was designated Senior Advocate, Mehra represented the AAP government as its standing counsel in the Delhi High Court. He has appeared in a number of cases for the party and its leaders, before various fora.

An AAP loyalist, there’s hardly any party politician who hasn’t been represented by Mehra. He appeared for Satyendar Jain, making a pitch for his client to get a fair trial.

Most recently, he appeared for Kejriwal in the Delhi High Court, which dismissed a plea filed by a law student seeking grant of interim bail to the Delhi CM.

In 2020, Mehra was locked in a crucial legal battle with the Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, over who would represent the Delhi Police in the Delhi Riots cases. 

He appeared for the Delhi government in the Delhi High Court's suo motu case concerning the oxygen crisis that gripped the capital during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic remains noteworthy. 

When it seemed that the administration was struggling to keep the healthcare machinery afloat, Mehra and his team tactfully handled the Court’s inquests and decrees during the critical period.

B S Joon

The former Director of Prosecution, Delhi, has shown a long term commitment towards AAP and its politicians.

Joon is believed to be a trial court specialist. He has appeared in majority of the cases filed against the AAP legislators, including a rioting case against Kejriwal, Sisodia and Gopal Rai, who were booked for protesting outside the house of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2012. It was Joon who got a discharge order from the trial court for the politicians.

He has represented the CM and Deputy CM on a number of occasions, and several AAP MLAs including Amanatullah Khan, Prakash Jarwal and Imran Hussain.  

Interestingly, Joon entered the political arena by successfully contesting the assembly elections on an AAP ticket in 2020. He now represents the Bijwasan Vidhan Sabha District in the Delhi Legislative Assembly and has been made the in-charge of AAP Madhya Pradesh.

Advocates Mohd Irshad, BS Joon and Rishikesh Kumar
Advocates Mohd Irshad, BS Joon and Rishikesh KumarMohd Irshad's X handle

Rishikesh Kumar and Mohd Irshad

While senior lawyers have been the face of the party’s legal representations, some lawyers worked behind the scenes.

From the lot, the names of Rishikesh Kumar and Mohd Irshad stood out. The duo has worked on a number of cases against the party leaders, ranging from defamation to serious charges of rioting, assault and corruption.

Along with the battery of seniors and juniors, Kumar and Irshad have appeared in almost all crucial hearings against the party leadership. Apart from legal representation, the two lawyers can be observed coordinating and playing a pivotal part in the party’s legal strategy. 

Both Kumar and Irshad represent the Delhi government as additional standing counsel in the Delhi High Court. Kumar is also Deputy Advocate General for Punjab in the Supreme Court.

In its existence, which has spanned little over a decade, the party’s has fought and continues to fight multiple legal battles in courts and as a result needing constant legal counsel in the process.  

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