Court sends Delhi CM Kejriwal to ED custody till March 28

- March 22, 2024
| By : Patriot Bureau |

Special Judge Kaveri Baweja at the Rouse Avenue court said Kejriwal will be produced before the court on March 28 at 2 pm

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

A Delhi court on Friday sent Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to ED custody till March 28 in the excise policy case. The order was pronounced by Special CBI Judge Kaveri Baweja following Kejriwal’s arrest by the central probe agency.

The decision comes after a division bench of the Delhi High Court declined to grant interim protection to Kejriwal from coercive action.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the ED, had sought 10 days of custody citing the need to recover the money trail and conduct further investigations.

ASG informed the court that all compliances under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), under which the Delhi CM has been arrested, were observed. “His relatives have been informed. Copy of remand application given. Grounds of arrest furnished to Kejriwal in writing. As far as sub section 2 (of Section 19) is concerned which requires sending to the adjudicating authority the sealed envelope copy of the order of arrest, we have complied,” he submitted.

In response, Kejriwal’s counsels, including senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Vikram Chaudhary, and Ramesh Gupta, challenged the necessity of his arrest under the PMLA, emphasizing the lack of direct evidence against him. They urged the court to consider the broader implications on democracy, arguing against a mechanical approach to remand.

The ED has alleged that Kejriwal was in constant communication with AAP’s former communications in-charge Vijay Nair, who acted as a middleman between AAP and the South Group, orchestrating the now-scrapped excise policy scam. The agency claims that Kejriwal demanded kickbacks from the South Group in exchange for favours, allegations that Singhvi questioned the authenticity of.

Singhvi and Chaudhary raised concerns about the timing of Kejriwal’s arrest, suggesting political motivations ahead of the upcoming general elections. They argued against the need for custodial custody, emphasising Kejriwal’s cooperation with the investigation thus far.

Singhvi said this is the first time in the history of India that a sitting chief minister has been arrested.

The power of arrest is not equal to the need for arrest and there was no necessity of arresting Kejriwal, Singhvi said.

Lawyer Vikram Chaudhary told the court that the “ED has become judge, jury and executioner”.

The ED contended that Kejriwal’s custody was essential for gathering information and interrogating him, citing non-compliance with previous summons and the destruction of electronic evidence by other accused parties.

Chaudhary disputed these claims, stating that Kejriwal had responded to all previous summons and questioning the necessity of arrest under Section 19 of the PMLA.

ED has alleged that Delhi’s excise policy was changed to fund the Goa elections; proceeds of crime of about Rs. 45 crores received from the South Group were used by AAP during the election campaign in Goa in 2021-22. Thus, ED said Kejriwal is liable both individually and vicariously.

“Aam Aadmi party is a beneficiary but it doesn’t exist individually. It is a company. Every person who is involved in the functioning of the company is responsible and shall be deemed to be guilty. Apart from personal liability, he (Kejriwal) is also liable to be punished under vicarious liability. Apart from his individual role, kindly look at his role as a person responsible for the conduct of the Aam Aadmi Party,” the ASG argued.

The case against Kejriwal has sparked significant legal and political debate, with implications for both his personal liability and the functioning of the Aam Aadmi Party. Despite legal manoeuvres by Kejriwal’s legal team, including petitions before the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court challenging ED summons, the CM now remains in ED custody until March 28, pending further investigation and legal proceedings.