“Turning Criminal Law On its Head”: Arvind Kejriwal Blasts Probe Agency ED

New Delhi: 

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today challenged in Delhi High Court his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case related to the now-scrapped liquor policy. The bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma has passed over the matter for a hearing later in the day after Mr Kejriwal’s counsel, Senior Advocate Abhishek Singhvi questioned the agency’s “delaying tactics”.

Appearing for the ED, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju said the agency got a copy of Mr Kejriwal’s petition only yesterday and sought three weeks’ time to file a detailed reply.

Mr Singhvi responded, “The person has been jail. On March 23, the petition was filed. Defects were cured later. I am sure Mr Raju does not want us to serve the defective copy to him. Defects were cleared late last night and we shared the petition with him then.”

Justice Sharma then said she will seek a reply and give a short date for the hearing on interim relief.

Mr Singhvi said he has challenged the remand that ends tomorrow. “I am asking the ladyship to decide the basis of the remand. That requires no reply from anyone.”

“This delaying tactics, I am asking my ladyships to decide it today. There are weighty reasons why a matter which challenges the foundation of the remand requires a hearing today. It is my ladyship’s prerogative to allow it or deny it. My ladyship may take a call on that. Therefore, there is no question of reply,” he said.

Mr Kejriwal has said in his petition that his arrest violated his human rights and that the ED has failed to prove the crime. “Arrest without interrogation shows that the current action is politically motivated,” he has said, demanding immediate release from jail and cancellation of remand.

The court then said it will hear the matter later in the day after finishing the supplementary list.

When the court started hearing the matter, Mr Singhvi said the ED’s request for three weeks’ time is “completely mala fide”. “Even one day incarceration is an issue of fundamental right,” he said.

“There is a strange situation of a sitting CM arrested on a summons issued in October without any statement under Section 50 and non-existent inquiry. The object of the arrest is very different. It is to create a non-level playing field,” he said.

“You are hitting at the heart of democracy and the heart of basic structure doctrine,” he said.

Mr Singhvi said the ED arrests a person, who suffers in jail and is then made to apply for bail. “Next step, the ASG tells the court I have no opposition to bail. The reason cited is he has back pain. The next step is, he comes out and makes a statement against me. Next he turns approver and is granted pardon,” he said.

“This has happened in every case in the liquor policy case. It is blowing to smithereens the constitutional safeguards,” Mr Singhvi said, adding that there is no corroboration of these statements.

Describing an approver as the “most untrustworthy friend”, Mr Singhvi said, “This species called approver… In our history, whether for good motives or bad motives, the courts have dealt with phrases like Jaichand and Trojan Horses. The history looks very harshly at these Jaichands and Trojan horses.”

In response, ED’s counsel SV Raju said he wants to file replies on the main matter and on the petition for interim relief. When the court said it has already said that it will issue notice in the main matter, he said, “On interim relief also, I have the right to file a reply. If I am not entitled to file a reply, then there is no need to hear me. I can’t be deprived of my right to file a reply.”

The court then said it will pass and order by 4 pm.

A day after his arrest, Mr Kejriwal had approached the Supreme Court for relief. However, he later withdrew his petition and his counsel, Senior Advocate Abhishek Singhvi, said they would contest the remand proceedings before the trial court and return to the top court with another petition.

Thereafter, he was produced before the Rouse Avenue court, which remanded him in a weeklong custody.

The ED’s money laundering case is based on a case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2022 that alleged irregularities in the liquor policy.

The CBI case, registered on a complaint by Delhi’s Centre-appointed Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, alleges that top AAP leaders intentionally left loopholes in the policy to favour some licensees.

The ED alleges that Mr Kejriwal was a key conspirator in the case. AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh, and Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha have been arrested in this connection.

Leave a comment