Arvind Kejriwal moves SC after Delhi HC setback in money laundering case | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Arvind Kejriwal moves SC after Delhi HC setback in money laundering case

Apr 10, 2024 09:55 AM IST

According to HC, ED cannot be blamed for choosing the timing of Kejriwal’s arrest after he pushed the agency to a point where it had no other option but to arrest him

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the Delhi high court rejected his petition to release him from jail while noting that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has sufficient evidence “at this stage which points out towards the guilt” of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor for the commission of the offence of money laundering in relation to the excise policy case.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal leaves from the Rouse Avenue Court after a hearing in the excise policy-linked money laundering case. (PTI File Photo)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal leaves from the Rouse Avenue Court after a hearing in the excise policy-linked money laundering case. (PTI File Photo)

The petition is likely to be mentioned by his legal team before Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud at 10.30 am for an urgent hearing. He will likely press for a hearing during the day since the Supreme Court will be closed for the remainder of this week due to Eid.

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On Tuesday, the Delhi high court ruled that ED had “sufficient” materials to justify the arrest of Kejriwal, who cannot be allowed to take the plea of political vengeance ahead of the Lok Sabha elections after choosing to skip nine ED summonses issued to him over the last six months, since the law does not allow any special privilege to a CM or any other person in power. According to HC, ED cannot be blamed for choosing the timing of Kejriwal’s arrest after he pushed the agency to a point where it had no other option but to arrest him.

The 103-page judgment by the single judge bench of justice Swarana Kanta Sharma affirmed Kejriwal’s arrest by ED on March 21, adding the material on record reveals that “Kejriwal had allegedly conspired with other persons and was involved in the formulation of Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22, in the process of demanding kickbacks from the South Group, as well as in generation, use and concealment of proceeds of crime”.

The HC judgment further said, “He (Kejriwal) is allegedly involved in the offence of money laundering in two capacities. Firstly, in his personal capacity as he was involved in the formulation of the excise policy and in demanding kickbacks. Secondly, in his capacity as the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party as per Section 70(1) of PMLA, for use of proceeds of crime of 45 crore in AAP’s election campaign in 2022 Goa elections.”

This ruling highlighted the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and Section 70(1), which make Kejriwal liable for the affairs of the AAP and potentially subject to charges of money laundering. However, it also acknowledged Kejriwal’s right to prove his innocence or lack of knowledge of any wrongdoing by the party at a later stage of the trial proceedings.

The dismissal of the CM’s petition challenging the legality of his arrest and a subsequent remand order of custodial interrogation marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing legal battle surrounding Kejriwal. It is likely to have ripple effects across the political landscape, with potential ramifications for both the legal proceedings and the broader strategy of AAP days before the general elections are slated to begin. While Kejriwal’s opponents may seize upon the court’s decision to discredit his administration and weaken the AAP’s electoral prospects, AAP will mull reassessing its legal and political strategy in the lead-up to the crucial elections.

Kejriwal was arrested by ED on March 21 in connection with a money laundering probe pertaining to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy 2021-22. A day after his arrest, the CM was sent to ED custody for six days, and on March 23, he approached the high court, claiming that his arrest violated his fundamental rights and that it was politically motivated. However, he was unable to get instant relief from the high court on March 27, as the bench only issued notice in his plea, emphasising the need for a response from ED to address the legal and validity issues raised. Kejriwal has since been sent to Tihar jail.

In its ruling, HC delved into several key aspects of the case, including allegations of kickbacks, utilisation of funds during Goa elections and the role of witnesses and approvers. The court’s decision came after thorough consideration of the evidence presented by ED, including statements from witnesses and approvers, hawala operators, and survey workers associated with the AAP, as well as material seized during Income Tax raids and analysis of Call Detail Records (CDRs).

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared in the case for Kejriwal while additional solicitor general SV Raju represented ED. Singhvi is expected to appear for Kejriwal in the top court as well.

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