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Delhi court extends custodial remand of Arvind Kejriwal till April 1 in excise policy case

New Delhi: The Rouse Avenue Court on Thursday extended the custodial remand of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by four more days in a money laundering case related to Excise Policy.
ED, while seeking further remand, submitted that data on one mobile phone (belonging to the arrestee's wife) has been extracted and is being analyzed. However, data from the other 4 digital devices seized during a search at Arvind Kejriwal's premises on March 21, 2024 (belonging to the arrestee himself) is yet to be extracted as the arrestee has sought time to provide password/login credentials after consulting with his lawyers.
Special Judge Kaveri Baweja extended the ED remand period until April 1, 2024.
During the hearing, Arvind Kejriwal himself addressed the court and said there were only four statements, including C Arvind, where he claimed that "he gave some documentation to Manish Sisodia in my presence".
"Several bureaucrats and MLAs came regularly to my home. Are these four statements made by different people sufficient to arrest a sitting Chief Minister?" Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal also referred to the statements of C Arvind, Raghav Magunta and his father, and Sharath Reddy. Kejriwal made a statement about the issue of electoral bonds, stating that the BJP is getting money. Kejriwals pointed out that people are being turned approvers in the case and people are being forced to change their statements.
Kejriwal also said... "mujhe jitna remand pe rakhna hai rakh lo... I'm ready for every investigation. It's being alleged that 100 cr was in a Liquor scam...Justice Sanjiv Khanna said that the money trail is not yet traced, said Arvind Kejriwal to court."
"The real liquor scam begins post the ED investigation. The motive of the ED is to crush the Aam Aadmi Party," said Arvind Kejriwal.
While seeking custodial remand ED said, statements of 3 other persons, relevant to the arrestee, have also been taken during the period of remand. During the ED Custody period, C. Arvind, PS to then Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia who was handed over the draft GoM report 2021-22 at the residence of Arvind Kejriwal and in his presence, was confronted with him.
A statement of one of the candidates for the AAP of Goa elections in 2022 is also recorded during this period. He has revealed that he did not have any money and his election expenditure (all expenses for rallies/ events/public hoardings) was taken care of by AAP Office Delhi only through their associates.
During the hearing, Atishi, Saurabh Bharadwaj, and Gopal Rai remain present in the courtroom. Arvind Kejriwal's wife and two children also attended the court proceedings.
Senior Advocate Ramesh Gupta and Advocates Rajat Bharadwaj, Mudit Jain, Mohd Irshad, and Vivek Jain appeared for Arvind Kejriwal while ASG SV Raju along with Zoheb Hossain, Naveen Kumar Matta, and Simon Benjamin appeared for Enforcement Directorate.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Petition moved by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest and also challenging ED remand granted by the trial court, while refusing to grant any immediate relief.
Bench of Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma stated that that the respondent/ED has to be granted an opportunity to file a reply, as an opportunity for effective representation, and declining this opportunity would amount to denial of fair hearing as well as violation of one of the principles of natural justice, i.e., audi-alteram partem, which is applicable to both the parties and not one.
The court, while fixing matter for April 3, 2024, further stated that any release order from custody will amount to enlarging the accused/petitioner/ Arvind Kejriwal on bail or interim bail, as an interim measure. The writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is not a ready substitute for recourse to the remedy of bail under Section 439 of the Cr.P.C. ordinarily.
Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma further stated that This Court remains conscious of the fact that to reach a conclusion as to whether the petitioner/Arvind Kejriwal herein is entitled to immediate release or not, this Court will necessarily have to decide the issues raised in the main petition, as those issues are the edifice of arguments of the learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner seeking immediate release of the petitioner.
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for Arvind Kejriwal submitted that a sitting CM who was arrested one week ago during the Model Code of Conduct. The heart of democracy is a level playing field and a free and fair election: If you do something to disrupt the level playing field, you hit the heart of democracy. My prayer is release me now because the foundation of my arrest is flawed, this is my interim prayer.
Arvind Kejriwal, through his plea alleged that the DOE has, at the time of arrest has failed to establish that the petitioner is guilty of committing activities stipulated under Section 3, i.e., be it one of concealment, possession, acquisition, or use of proceeds of crime, as much as projecting it as untainted property or claiming it to be so.
The fact that the petitioner/Kejriwal was arrested without any interrogation or questioning clearly shows that the present proceedings of arrest are pre-meditated and nothing but an act of political vendetta to skew the balance and level-playing field in the 2024 General Election.
Appearing for Enforcement Directorate, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju sought time to file detailed reply in the matter and alleged that they deliberately didn't serve us a copy so that we were not prepared, you talk of level playing field and their yardsticks are different
Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 by the Enforcement Directorate in relation to the excise policy case.
According to Kejriwal's plea, both the arrest and the remand order are illegal and he is entitled to be released from custody.
The plea stated that without there being any material in possession of the Enforcement Directorate on the basis of which the petitioner (Arvind Kejriwal), can be believed to be guilty of an offence, the petitioner is being illegally and arbitrarily arrested by ED in the evening of March 21.
The plea further stated that the provisions of PMLA are being used to persecute and destroy the very basic fabric of the democratic and federal structures of this country.
"The attempt is to decimate a political party and topple an elected government of NCT of Delhi," the plea stated.
The trial court on March 22, sent Arvind Kejriwal to ED remand till March 28. ED alleged that the Aam Adami Party (AAP) is the major beneficiary of the proceeds of crime generated in the alleged liquor scam.
The agency claimed that Kejriwal was directly involved in the formation of the excise policy.
"Arvind Kejriwal has also been intrinsically involved in the entire conspiracy of the Delhi liquor scam, wherein the policy was drafted and implemented in a manner wherein certain private persons were favoured and benefitted in a quid pro quo of receiving kickbacks," the central agency said in its remand.
It also claimed that due to the actions of Arvind Kejriwal involving excise policy formulation, hatching the conspiracy of kickbacks with the South Group members, and eventually using part of the proceeds of crime generated out of this scheduled offence in the election campaign of the AAP for the Goa Assembly elections, it is clear that all these activities were not only done with his knowledge but also his active collusion.
Kejriwal was arrested by the central agency late Thursday night on charges of corruption in relation to the case. It is the first time in independent India that a serving Chief Minister has been arrested. The move came after Kejriwal skipped multiple summons by the investigation agency, nine in total, calling them "illegal".
The case pertains to alleged irregularities and money laundering in framing and implementing the Delhi excise policy 2022, which was later scrapped.
While Kejriwal was not named in the FIRs registered by the ED or the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Delhi excise policy case, his name first found a mention in the ED's chargesheet, wherein the agency claimed that he allegedly spoke to one of the main accused, Sameer Mahendru, in a video call and asked him to continue working with co-accused and AAP communications-in-charge Vijay Nair.
Nair was among the first people to be arrested by the CBI in the case, in 2022. Subsequently, former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh were arrested in connection with the case.

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