Supreme Court issues notice on CM Kejriwal plea challenging ED arrest, remand

The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a petition filed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest by the agency and his subsequent remand in a money laundering case related to the Delhi Excise Policy case.

The order was passed by the Bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta on a petition filed by national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The Bench issued notice to the central agency and posted the case for further hearing on April 29.

On April 10, Kejriwal had filed an application in the Supreme Court challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and subsequent remand in connection with the Delhi liquor policy scam case.

On April 9, the Delhi High Court had dismissed Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest by ED, as well as the remand order passed by the trial court sending him to ED custody on the grounds that there was evidence to show that Kejriwal’s involvement in the scam.

The single-judge Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma further said that the money received as kickbacks was used for political campaigning in the 2022 Goa Legislative Assembly elections.

The High Court also upheld the subsequent remand orders, including the one remanding Kejriwal to judicial custody.

It said the material collected by ED revealed that Kejriwal conspired and was involved in the formulation of the Excise Policy, both in his personal capacity, and as the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Kejriwal also used the proceeds of crime, it added.

The High Court said it would not lay down different categories of laws, one for the common citizens and other for granting special privileges for a Chief Minister.

The single-judge Bench had earlier reserved the verdict after hearing arguments at length on April 3.

The plea by AAP leader stated that the Central government was misusing the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In the course of hearing, the Enforcement Directorate, which was represented by ASG SV Raju, argued that this cannot be accepted that people were being treated differently. He said the AAP leader has committed a crime, but just because he was a Chief Minister, did it mean that he couldn’t be arrested?

The Counsel said that one cannot loot the country just because he was holding an important position and cannot be excused just because elections were coming.

The AAP leader was represented by Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who stated that the case exhibited timing issues, preventing the petitioner from participating in the democratic process.

The Senior Counsel further submitted that the arrest was done to harm the prospects of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, scheduled to be held between April 19 and June 1.

The ED countered the plea, stating that Kejriwal cannot claim “immunity” from arrest based on upcoming elections as the law applied equally to him and an “aam aadmi”.

The law enforcement agency stated that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been the recipient of funds from illegal activities in the Delhi liquor scam.

On March 21, the Enforcement Directorate arrested Kejriwal after the Delhi High Court denied him protection from coercive action by the federal anti-money laundering agency.

The Delhi CM was placed in judicial custody on April 1 after appearing in the trial court following the expiration of his ED custody.

Kejriwal challenged this verdict before the Apex Court.

On July 20, Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena had filed a complaint alleging that
a criminal conspiracy was hatched by AAP leaders, including former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and other unidentified and unnamed private persons/entities during the stage of formulation of Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

It was alleged that some loopholes were ‘intentionally’ left or created in the policy, to allegedly favour some licensees and conspirators post the tender process.

On August 17, 2022, based on the LG’s complaint, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a case in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. Subsequently, ED registered a case and started probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Several AAP leaders, including former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Member of Parliament Sanjay Singh, were arrested by the ED in connection with the case. Simgh was recently granted bail in the case.

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