Kejriwal’s arrest: ‘Criminals supposed to be in jail,’ says ED counsel; HC reserves order

CM moved high court challenging arrest in excise policy case

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal leaves from a Delhi court | PTI Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal leaves from a Delhi court | PTI

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

Kejriwal is currently in judicial custody. He was arrested on March 21 and had been in ED custody till April 1 when a city court remanded him to judicial custody till April 15.

According to reports, the high court witnessed heated exchanges between the counsels of Kejriwal and the probe agency with Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju claiming that "criminals are supposed to be arrested and put in jail". 

"Under-trial prisoners have no right to say, 'we will commit a crime and we will not be arrested because elections are here'. This is completely ridiculous," Raju, representing the ED, declared.

This came after senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, alleged that efforts were being made to break the Aam Aadmi Party, which is seen by many as a strong challenger to the BJP in Delhi.

“The ED does not have any evidence and that the arrest of the sitting chief minister was unwarranted, particularly before an election,” Singhvi 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 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 a 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. 

On Tuesday, the probe agency in its response told the high court that Kejriwal 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.

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.

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