Court sends Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to judicial custody till April 15

- April 1, 2024
| By : Patriot Bureau |

The Enforcement Directorate arrested Arvind Kejriwal on March 21 in excise policy case

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday was sent to judicial custody till April 15.

He was produced before Special Judge Kaveri Baweja in a Delhi court in a jam-packed courtroom after his Enforcement Directorate (ED) custodial remand ended in the Excise policy-linked money laundering case.

The ED had sought 15-day judicial custody of Kejriwal, saying he was “totally uncooperative”.

Speaking to reporters before entering court, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said, “Whatever the Prime Minister is doing [referring to his arrest] is not good for the country”.

AAP Ministers Atishi, Saurabh Bhardwaj and Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal were present in court.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, appearing for ED, said that the CM was not cooperating with the probe.

In its remand application, the ED said during Kejriwal’s custodial interrogation, he gave “evasive replies” and concealed information.

It said the chief minister’s statements were taken over a period of nine days and he was confronted with the statements of different witnesses, approvers and other co-accused.

The plea listed “few of the glaring examples of evasive and misleading replies” given by Kejriwal.

“He (Kejriwal) stated that Vijay Nair did not report to him but to Aatishi Marlena and Saurav Bharadwaj and his interaction with Nair was limited,” it said.

The statements of Nair, however, revealed that he stayed in a cabinet minister’s bungalow and worked from the chief minister’s camp office, the remand application said.

“It was also put to the arrestee to explain that why would someone, who reported to other leaders of AAP, work from his camp office which anyways is meant for the work of the CM of Delhi and not for the party. Kejriwal evaded replying to this by claiming unawareness to the persons who work at the CM camp office,” it said.

The plea underlined that Nair was not some small time volunteer in the party but head of media and communications.

“The arrestee (Kejriwal) has not answered the questions posed to him by questioning the authenticity of digital evidence shown to him. The arrestee also did not reveal the passwords of his digital devices which inhibits the evidence collection and also shows his non-cooperation,” it said.

The application said Kejriwal was shown the evidence of more than 10 meetings of Nair with other co-accused persons involved in liquor business including liquor manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and even middlemen like Dinesh Arora and Abhishek Boinpally.

“It was put to the arrestee to explain the authority with which Nair attended these meetings, the arrestee evaded the question by claiming unawareness of these persons and it is clear that a senior functionary like Nair who closely worked with the arrestee wouldn’t be able to assert himself without the sanction and approval of the head of the party,” it said.

“This is also because the ultimate benefit of these conspiracies or meetings was reaped by the AAP in the Goa election campaign,” the remand application added.

It said Kejriwal was shown the evidence of hawala transfers of around Rs 45 crore, which was corroborated with CDR locations, call records, WhatsApp chats, seized data of the hawala firm in Goa and proof of payments being made.

He was also shown multiple statements of witnesses who worked on the AAP campaign in Goa and who received cash from one Chanpreet Singh who was working for the AAP campaign in Goa, the plea said.

It said, “Even after showing all the above evidence, the arrestee claimed unawareness even though the beneficiary of these funds is the AAP which is headed by him.”

The application said Kejriwal provided “false and contrary evidence vis-a-vis other members of the AAP”.

It said AAPs national treasurer N D Gupta had stated that national convener of the party, Kejriwal, appointed the state election in-charge or ‘prabhari’, who managed all matters regarding election campaigns. Durgesh Pathak was chosen as the ‘prabhari’ for Goa elections.

Kejriwal, however, stated that it is the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) which decided the state election in-charge, the remand application said.

It said,”Kejriwal who first says that N D Gupta is an active member of the party and is a member of PAC and has knowledge of the party functioning but when confronted with Gupta’s statement revealing that the national convenor takes such decisions, Sh Arvind Kejriwal calls the national treasurer (Gupta) confused.”

The plea sought Kejriwal’s 15-day judicial custody on the grounds that he was “highly influential” and if released, there was every likelihood that the chief minister would influence witnesses and tamper with the evidence.

“That the department (ED) is still further investigating the role of the arrestee in the instant matter and is unearthing the further proceeds of crime and identifying the other persons who are involved or connected with the process or activities related to proceeds of crime,” it said.

The remand application said investigation into the economic crimes was more complex than the ordinary crimes as economic offenders are resourceful and influential persons and committed the said crimes in a carefully planned and meticulous manner.

The ED also said the judicial custody could be granted while reserving the right of the agency to take further custody of Kejriwal during the permissible period, if required, in accordance with law.

Arvind Kejriwal’s lawyers moved an application to allow Kejriwal to read three books in the jail – Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and How Prime Ministers Decide.

He also sought permission for special diet and to have a religious locket.

The ED had arrested Kejriwal on March 21 in connection with the case. The next day, Special Judge Baweja remanded him in the custody of the ED till March 28. Following this, the court allowed the ED’s plea requesting extension of his custodial interrogation by four days till April 1.

Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal accused the BJP of having only one motive — to put her husband in jail during the Lok Sabha elections.

“He was questioned for 11 days, the questioning is complete. The court has not declared him guilty. Why has he been put in jail?” Sunita Kejriwal told reporters while leaving the Rouse Avenue court.

“They (the BJP) have only one objective — to put him in jail ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The country’s people will give a reply to this dictatorship,” she said. (With inputs from PTI