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Excise PMLA case: Arvind Kejriwal moves Delhi HC against arrest, remand order

New Delhi: The Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, on Saturday moved to the Delhi High Court, challenging his arrest and the order of remand passed by the trial court on March 22.

CM Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in connection with the now-scrapped excise policy case.

His legal team said that his plea in Delhi HC stated that both the arrest and the remand order are 'illegal' and he is entitled to be released from custody immediately.

An immediate hearing has been sought from the Acting Chief Justice, preferably on Sunday, March 24.

The ED, which was given the custody of Delhi CM till March 28 by the court, has alleged that the Aam Adami Party (AAP) is the major beneficiary of the proceeds of crime generated in the alleged liquor scam.

The Rouse Avenue Court on Friday remanded Kejriwal to six days of ED custody in the money laundering case related to the alleged liquor policy scam case till March 28.

Special CBI judge Kaveri Baweja of the Rouse Avenue Courts passed the order after Kejriwal was produced today following his arrest last night by the central probe agency. The ED sought 10 days remand of Kejriwal in its custody.

Senior Advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Vikram Chaudhari, and Ramesh Gupta, along with Advocates Rajat Bharadwaj, Mudit Jain and Mohd Irshad, appeared for the Delhi CM Kejriwal.

ASG SV Raju and Special Counsel Zoheb Hossain appeared for the probe agency. "Part of the proceeds of crime to the tune of cash of Rs 45 cr approx. has been utilised in the election campaign of AAP in Goa Assembly elections 2022," the ED alleged.

The agency further 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 federal 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 AAP for Goa Assembly elections, it is clear it 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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