Court reserves verdict on Kejriwal plea against ED arrest

  • | Thursday | 4th April, 2024

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwals plea seeking immediate release from the custody of the Enforcement Directorate in the liquorgate policy scam case. The team Kejriwal claimed that his arrest was aimed at demolishing his party before the Lok Sabha election and the agency was trying to play a fixed match while the ED said someone who loots the country cannot claim immunity citing polls. Kejriwals counsel further stated the arrest was based on uncorroborated statements of co-accused turned approvers. Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma reserved verdict on Kejriwals petition challenging his arrest and subsequent remand to the ED in the case till March 28 after hearing both the sides at length. During the arguments, Senior advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Kejriwal, said, This case reeks of timing issues which ensures that Kejriwal is unable to participate in democratic activity and to try to disintegrate the AAP before the first vote is cast. During the hearing in the Delhi high court, additional solicitor general (ASG) SV Raju, argued on behalf of ED saying that Kejriwal has so much influence and has copies of chargesheets, relied and unrelied documents. The ASG resorted to clever word play using Kejriwals party name, AAP to argue that everybody has to be treated equally and someone who loots the country cannot claim immunity citing upcoming elections. Aam aadmi has to go behind bars if he has committed a crime but because you are a Chief Minister you cant be arrested? You will loot the country but no one can touch you because the elections are coming? the ASG asked. In response to Kejriwals argument that the arrest was politically motivated in view of the Lok Sabha elections, the ASG said, Take a case of terrorist who is also a politician. He blows up army vehicle and says I want to contest elections so you cant touch me? What kind of argument is this, the ASG asked. He further said that whether the statements made by witnesses against Kejriwal are true or not is a matter of trial. Whether the statements are to be believed or not to be believed is a matter of trial. The Court cannot substitute itself in the place of the investigating officer. The statements of witnesses... there are statements to show that outsiders were involved from the drafting of the policy to its formulation, it was submitted. Notably the ASG also said that a person responsible for the affairs of the party would be liable and his personal role might not be relevant. Forget his role, role is not required to be looked at. What is required to be looked at is that he was responsible for the affairs of the company/party. We have demonstrated that Arvind Kejriwal was responsible for the affairs of company (AAP) at the time when the offence of money laundering was committed. Tomorrow if we feel that others were also responsible for it, we will make them responsible as well, the ASG said. Seeking the relief of Kerjiwals release, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi contended there was no necessity to arrest the AAP politician in violation of the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act a year and a half after the probe was initiated by ED in August 2022. The timing of arrest reeks of basic structure issue, he said, adding the agency was suppressing exculpatory statements of witnesses while turning the criminal law on its head by adopting a completely biased approach. He also said the belated statements of approvers Raghav Magunta and Sarath Reddy cannot be relied upon as the latter even donated to the ruling party through electoral bonds and the EDs argument of non cooperation by Kejriwal was a nice prejudice. This is reprehensible conduct by the prosecutor, Singhvi said. EDs senior counsel also said the petition has only assailed the first remand order passed against the petitioner, which sent him to the agencys custody till March 28, and not the subsequent orders. Raju said the agency was not shooting in the dark and there was income tax data, WhatsApp chats and statements of hawala operators.

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