Delhi court extends ED custody of Arvind Kejriwal till April 1 in liquor policy case

A Delhi court on Thursday extended Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s remand to the Enforcement Directorate till April 1 in the liquor excise policy case, Live Law reported.

On March 21, the Aam Aadmi Party chief was sent to the central law enforcement agency’s custody​ till March 28. Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 20.

At Thursday’s hearing, the agency sought seven more days to question the chief minister of the national capital territory. Kejriwal did not oppose the Enforcement Directorate’s remand, Bar and Bench reported.

“They can keep me in custody for as long as they want,” he told the court. “But this is a scam.”

He also said that the case is being used to crush the Aam Aadmi Party, The Indian Express reported.

“ED has two motives – to create a smokescreen to crush AAP and two, to create an extortion racket,” Kejriwal said in court. “Sarath Reddy contributed Rs 55 crores to BJP. He bought his bail. Money trail is clearly established.”

Hours before Kejriwal’s arrest, electoral bond data released by the Election Commission had shown a company linked to another person accused in the same case, P Sarath Chandra Reddy, had donated Rs 5 crore to the BJP in 2022, just five days after he was taken in custody. Another Rs 25 crore was donated to the BJP after Reddy turned approver in the case.

Firms linked to a member of the “South Group” who have been mentioned as accused in the case, paid at least Rs 55 crore to the Bharatiya Janata Party through electoral bonds, an analysis by the Project Electoral Bond showed.

The court’s decision on Thursday comes a day after the Delhi High Court refused to grant interim relief to Kejriwal who had challenged his arrest and custody by the Enforcement Directorate.

The High Court asked the Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday to file its response to Kejriwal’s petition by April 2. The next hearing in the matter in the High Court will take place on April 3.

Kejriwal’s arrest in the liquor policy case ahead of the Lok Sabha elections has drawn reactions from the United States and Germany.

What is the Delhi liquor policy case?

The Enforcement Directorate’s case is based on a first information report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation alleging irregularities in the Delhi government’s now-scrapped liquor excise policy.

The policy came into effect in November 2021. It was withdrawn on July 30, 2022, with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommending an investigation into the alleged irregularities of the policy.

The Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate have alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party government modified Delhi’s liquor excise policy to ensure a 12% profit margin for wholesalers and a nearly 185% profit margin for retailers.

The Enforcement Directorate has also claimed that members of a “South Group” had paid at least Rs 100 crore in kickbacks to leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party through businessman Vijay Nair, who is currently in jail.

Also read: In Delhi liquor policy case, approver’s firm paid Rs 30 crore to the BJP – after ED arrest

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