Kejriwal ‘kingpin’ and ‘key conspirator’ of excise policy scam: ED tells Delhi High Court

HC will hear Kejriwal’s petition against his arrest on Wednesday

Arvind Kejriwal leaves in a car after attending a hearing at a Delhi court | AP Arvind Kejriwal leaves in a car after attending the hearing at a Delhi court | AP

The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday filed its reply in the Delhi High Court on a petition filed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest in the excise policy case.

Opposing the Aam Aadmi Party leader’s petition, the probe agency told the court that he was the "kingpin" and the "key conspirator" of the scam.

"Sh Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of NCT of Delhi, is the kingpin and key conspirator of the Delhi Excise Scam in collusion with Ministers of Delhi Govt, AAP leaders and other persons.. Sh Arvind Kejriwal was directly involved in the formulation of the Excise Policy 2021-22,” it said.

The ED claimed it had given Kejriwal multiple opportunities to cooperate with the probe by issuing nine summons, but he chose to intentionally disobey all notices on flimsy grounds.

The probe agency further reiterated that the AAP was a major beneficiary of the proceeds of crime generated in the liquor policy scam. Part of the proceeds of crime to the tune of cash of Rs. 45 Cr approx. has been utilised in the election campaign of AAP in the Goa Assembly elections 2022, it said.

Last week, the High Court refused to give interim relief to Kejriwal and issued notice to the ED on his petition seeking immediate release. The court will hear the matter again on Wednesday (April 3).

The court noted in its last hearing that the respondent (ED) has to be granted an opportunity to file its reply and declining this opportunity would amount to the denial of fair hearing. The court’s remarks came after Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju appearing for the ED submitted that Kejriwal’s counsel had not given a copy of the petition to the agency. 

Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma stated that “this court remains conscious of the fact that to reach a conclusion as to whether the petitioner/Arvind Kejriwal herein is entitled to immediate release or not, this Court will necessarily have to decide the issues raised in the main petition, as those issues are the edifice of arguments of the learned senior counsel for the petitioner seeking immediate release of the petitioner”. 

The chief minister was arrested on March 21 and he had been in the ED’s custody till April 1 when a city court sent him to judicial custody till April 15.

On Monday, the ED said in its remand report that Kejriwal was giving “misleading replies” and “concealing information” during his questioning in connection with the excise policy case.

During his questioning, Kejriwal allegedly told the central agency that he had "limited" interaction with AAP communication head Vijay Nair, who has been already arrested in this case, and that Nair used to report to his cabinet colleagues, Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj, rather than to him.

When questioned about AAP national treasurer N.D. Gupta's remarks regarding party matters, the chief minister called him "confused", the ED said in its remand report.

On Monday afternoon, Kejriwal was taken to Tihar jail in Delhi after he was sent to the judicial custody. According to officials, he has been lodged in Jail number 2.

Kejriwal's former deputy Manish Sisodia, who is in jail in connection with the same case, is lodged in Jail number 1, while BRS leader K Kavitha is in Jail number 6 of the women's jail. 

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