Delhi HC reserves order on Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest by ED

New Delhi, Apr 3 (UNI) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its order on the plea of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the money laundering case related to the alleged liquor policy scam.

A single bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma after hearing lengthy arguments from both sides reserved its order which will be pronounced tomorrow.

The High Court was hearing the plea of Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest by ED and the trial court order remanding him to probe the agency’s custody.

Kejriwal was arrested on the night of March 21. The trial court had on March 22 remanded him to six days of ED custody which was extended by a further four days.

On April 1, he was remanded to judicial custody till April 15 by the trial court. He is currently in judicial custody in Tihar Jail.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju appearing on behalf of ED told the Court that the investigation of Kejriwal is at a nascent stage.

He also pointed out that Kejriwal has not challenged the latest order remanding him to 15 days of judicial custody.

“The CM has challenged the first remand order. Please look at the remand order of 26 March. Today we are on April 3. On 28 March, a second remand order is passed. That has not been challenged. The third remand order of judicial custody has not been challenged. So today his custody isn’t according to arrest or first remand order, it’s according to April 1 order which has not been challenged.”

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Kejriwal argued that the Enforcement Directorate did not comply with Section 50 PMLA which empowers it to issue the summons, collect evidence, etc.

Singhvi said, “It is clear that section 50 involves an inquiry. Because it’s an inquiry which enables ED to make up the mind about arrest and prosecution. No attempt is made to record section 50 statement, even at my residence,” he argued.

The Senior Advocate alleged that the ED wants to “find out” the role of Chief Minister. “Surely that’s not a ground for today’s arrest. There has to be a specific role of the petitioner, even for the company, which is not there,” the senior lawyer said.

ASG Raju argued “The fact that a PMLA offence has taken place is clear and beyond any doubt. Because as far as first Police Custody and subsequent Police Custody is concerned, the court has taken cognizance…Categorical finding that there is money laundering. Cognizance of the offence of money laundering. Nobody has challenged the order.”

Singhvi contended that ED forced the approvers Raghav Magunta, Sarath Reddy and Magunta Reddy to make statements against Kejriwal. He further alleged that two approvers even have links with the ruling party.

“First in several statements, there is nothing against me.

Step 2, some of them were arrested. Step 3, the first time they give statements against me. Step 4, they are given bail without any objection. Then they get pardoned and made approvers. Step Five is unique, one of them is a candidate from the ruling party in the current elections. That is Magunta Reddy and the second one is shown to have purchased bonds, that is Sarath Reddy…he is given an absolute bail hardly ten days later. This is making a joke about the accused rights and fair play. His interim bail is made absolute and pardon happens.

Then comes the second man, Magunta’s father. He makes the statement obviously to secure bail for his son. This statement is contrary to his earlier statements. This person, the father, has now joined the alliance of the ruling party.”

Singhvi added that initial statements that did not implicate Kejriwal were not even put on record by the ED. “These statements are kept in unrelied. Why should the court not see it? Is it fair? What cannon of fairness are you carrying ED? Out of 13 statements by this Reddy. He says nothing in 11 statements. The judge will go by one statement?”

Singhvi also questioned the necessity of arrest amid upcoming general elections. “The test is not, ‘can arrest’. It has to demonstrate the necessity to arrest.

“The necessity to arrest immediately before elections…the only object is to insult, humiliate and disable…So that the petitioner is unable to participate in the election process and to try to demolish the party before the first vote is cast, Singhvi argued. The timing reeks of basic structure issues, free and fair election issues and democracy issues. What is this urgency or necessity?”

Singhvi contended that Kejriwal is the Chief Minister of Delhi and he cannot run away. He cannot be said to be at a flight risk, given his deep roots in society, so where is the need to keep him in custody? Singhvi questioned the need to arrest Kejriwal.

ASG argued that no calculation was done as to why 5 per cent profit was converted to 12 per cent in the new policy. “The only inference is that it was done so that 7 per cent of the portion is used for giving kickbacks. The fact that there is a scam is beyond doubt today.

The ASG said evidence shows that kickbacks were used for the election campaign of AAP in Goa.

The Beneficiary of Kickback proceeds was AAP. The offence is committed by AAP. “AAP is a company under section 70 of PMLA. You may not be a company but you will be deemed to be a company if you’re an association of individuals. AAP is an association of individuals, ASG said.

The ED alleged that Kejriwal had skipped nine summons issued to him by the agency. Aam Aadmi Party leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are also accused in the case. Sanjay Singh was granted bail by Supreme Court yesterday after 6 months remaining in custody. Manish Sisodia is presently in judicial custody.

Following his arrest, Kejriwal promptly moved an urgent petition before the Supreme Court challenging his arrest. However, the same was withdrawn later.

Moreover, he has previously moved the Delhi High Court (division bench) challenging the summons issued to him by the central probe agency.

He also filed an application seeking interim protection. The matter is fixed for a hearing in Delhi High Court on April 22.

Kejriwal had skipped the summons, claiming that they were illegal.

ED alleged that Arvind Kejriwal is the “kingpin” of Delhi excise scam and is directly involved in the use of proceeds of crime accounting to over Rs. 100 crores.

It is ED’s case that the excise policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12 per cent to certain private companies, although such a stipulation was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings of the Group of Ministers (GoM).

The ED said that a conspiracy was coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals along with South Group to give extraordinary profit margins to wholesalers.

Nair was acting on behalf of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, according to the agency.

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