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Arvind Kejriwal sent to 7-day ED custody in Delhi excise policy case
Liquorgate
Photo courtesy: Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal sent to 7-day ED custody in Delhi excise policy case

| @indiablooms | 22 Mar 2024, 11:12 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, arrested over alleged excise policy scam, has been remanded to the 7-day custody of the Enforcement Directorate till March 28.

The order was passed late Friday by Delhi's Rouse Avenue Court, hours after the Delhi Chief Minister withdrew a Supreme Court plea challenging his arrest in the alleged liquor policy scam case.

The central agency had sought custody of Kejriwal for 10 days, stating it needed time to complete its investigation and confront the Aam Aadmi Party supremo with other arrested accused in the case.

In Friday's hearing, the agency called Arvind Kejriwal the "kingpin" and "key conspirator" in the alleged scam.

The ED called him the "middleman" between the 'south group' and other accused, including ex-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia (arrested last year).

According to the agency, total proceeds of the alleged scam exceeded Rs. 600 crore including Rs.100 crore allegedly paid by the 'south group'- Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha, who was arrested last week.

Kejriwal, the first sitting Chief Minister to be arrested, spent the night at the agency's office, and has denied all charges.

The AAP has repeatedly stated the ED has yet to recover any of the alleged cash.

"He was directly involved in implementation of the policy, and giving favour to the south group. He demanded kickbacks in exchange for favours... this is corroborated by statements," Additional Solicitor-General SV Raju, argued for the Enforcement Directorate, "He is involved in use of proceeds of crime."

In his first reaction since the arrest, Kejriwal told reporters: "My life is dedicated to the nation". Shortly afterwards his wife, Sunita Kejriwal posted an appeal on X (formerly Twitter).

"Your Chief Minister always stood with you.. whether inside or outside (jail), his life is dedicated to the country," she said.

The ED claimed Rs. 45 crore of the kickbacks were used to fund the AAP's Goa and Punjab elections in 2022.

The vote share of 6.8 per cent in the former confirmed AAP as a national party, and its victory over the Congress in the latter allowed it to establish a first state government outside of Delhi.

Kejriwal's advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court that the ED had no need to arrest the Delhi CM.

"The first thing is necessity for arrest... power to arrest is not equal to need. Just because you have the power to arrest someone does not mean you should..." he argued, adding the central agency's claim about tracing the money trail further "can't be a ground for arrest... it can be grounds for questioning".

"There is a new pattern... you have a witness who does not name Kejriwal in first or second statement. You arrest him, oppose bail vehemently... then he turns approver and, one fine day, he gives a brilliant statement..."Singhvi said.

Kejirwal earlier in the day withdrew his plea in the Supreme Court against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the excise policy case, media reports said.

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