Delhi Court Extends Arvind Kejriwal's Judicial Custody Till April 1

Special Judge Kaveri Baweja extended the period of remand sought by the Enforcement Directorate until April 1, 2024.
Delhi Court Extends Arvind Kejriwal's Judicial Custody Till April 1
Delhi Court Extends Arvind Kejriwal's Judicial Custody Till April 1

The Rouse Avenue Court extended Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's custody by an additional four days on Thursday in a money laundering case connected to the Excise Policy.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) requested an extension of remand and stated that they have extracted and are currently analyzing data from one mobile phone, which belongs to the wife of the person who was arrested. However, they have not yet extracted data from the other four digital devices that were seized during a search at Arvind Kejriwal's premises on March 21, 2024. The arrestee has asked for time to provide the password/login credentials for these devices after consulting with their lawyers.

Special Judge Kaveri Baweja extended the period of remand sought by the Enforcement Directorate until April 1, 2024.

While in court, Arvind Kejriwal personally spoke and stated that there were only four statements, one of which was made by C Arvind, where he made the claim 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 mentioned the remarks made by C Arvind, Raghav Magunta, his father, and Sharath Reddy. He commented on the matter of electoral bonds, claiming that the BJP is receiving funds. Kejriwal highlighted that individuals are being coerced into becoming witnesses in the case and are being pressured to alter their statements.

Kejriwal 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.

The ED stated that while requesting custodial remand, they have also obtained statements from three other individuals related to the person who was arrested. One of these individuals is C. Arvind, the personal secretary to the former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Arvind was given the draft report of the Group of Ministers (GoM) for the year 2021-22 at the residence of Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, and was confronted with him during the period of custody by the ED.

During this time, a candidate from the AAP party for the Goa elections in 2022 made a statement that was also documented. In his statement, he disclosed that he had no personal funds and that all his election expenses, including rallies, events, and public hoardings, were covered by the AAP Office in Delhi through their associates.

During the court proceedings, Atishi, Saurabh Bharadwaj, and Gopal Rai were present in the courtroom. Arvind Kejriwal's wife and two children also attended the hearing.

Senior Advocate Ramesh Gupta and Advocates Rajat Bharadwaj, Mudit Jain, Mohd Irshad, and Vivek Jain represented Arvind Kejriwal in court, while ASG SV Raju, along with Zoheb Hossain, Naveen Kumar Matta, and Simon Benjamin, represented the Enforcement Directorate.

The Delhi High Court has sent a notice to the ED in response to a petition filed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The petition challenges his arrest and also questions the remand granted by the trial court. However, the court has declined to provide immediate relief.

The Bench headed by Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma emphasized that it is necessary to give the respondent/ED a chance to submit a response. Denying this opportunity would be considered a violation of fair hearing and the principle of natural justice known as audi-alteram partem, which applies to both parties involved and not just one.

The court, when scheduling the case for April 3, 2024, also mentioned that any decision to release the accused/petitioner/ Arvind Kejriwal from custody would be considered granting bail or interim bail on a temporary basis. The authority to issue writs under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution is not a direct replacement for seeking bail under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code in normal circumstances.

Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma also mentioned that the Court is aware that in order to determine whether the petitioner, Arvind Kejriwal, should be released immediately or not, the Court must address the issues raised in the main petition. These issues form the basis of the arguments put forth by the petitioner's Senior Counsel in favor of the petitioner's immediate release.

During the court proceedings, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a Senior Advocate, represented Arvind Kejriwal and argued that a Chief Minister who was arrested a week ago during the Model Code of Conduct poses a threat to the core principles of democracy. Singhvi emphasized the importance of a level playing field and a free and fair election, stating that any action that disrupts this balance undermines the essence of democracy. Singhvi requested the court to release Kejriwal immediately, as he believed that the basis for his arrest was flawed. This was presented as an interim prayer.

Arvind Kejriwal claimed in his plea that the DOE has not been able to prove his guilt in engaging in activities outlined in Section 3. These activities include concealing, possessing, acquiring, or using proceeds of crime, as well as presenting them as clean property or falsely claiming them to be so.

The arrest of the petitioner/Kejriwal without any prior investigation or questioning indicates that the current arrest process is pre-planned and solely motivated by political revenge, aiming to manipulate the fairness and equal opportunities in the upcoming 2024 General Election.

During the appearance for the Enforcement Directorate, the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju requested additional time to submit a comprehensive response to the issue. He also accused the opposing party of intentionally withholding a copy of the document, which resulted in our lack of preparation. It is ironic that they speak of fairness and equality, yet their approach is inconsistent.

Kejriwal was taken into custody on March 21 by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the excise policy case.

According to Kejriwal's petition, he claims that both the arrest and the order to detain him are unlawful, and he should be set free.

The plea argued that the petitioner (Arvind Kejriwal) is being unlawfully and unfairly arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on the evening of March 21, despite the fact that there is no evidence to suggest that he is guilty of any wrongdoing.

The plea also mentioned that the utilization of PMLA is being employed to oppress and dismantle the fundamental framework of democracy and federalism in this nation.

"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, ordered Arvind Kejriwal to be held in ED custody until March 28. The ED accused the Aam Adami Party (AAP) of being the primary recipient of the funds obtained through the alleged liquor scam.

According to the agency, Kejriwal was personally engaged in the development 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.

The statement also alleged that Arvind Kejriwal was involved in the formulation of excise policies, conspiring with South Group members to receive kickbacks, and using some of the illegally obtained money for the AAP's election campaign in Goa. This suggests that Kejriwal not only had knowledge of these activities but actively participated in them.

Kejriwal, the Chief Minister, was apprehended by the central agency on Thursday night for alleged corruption in connection with the case. This marks the first instance in the history of independent India where a Chief Minister currently in office has been taken into custody. The arrest followed Kejriwal's repeated refusal to appear before the investigation agency, disregarding a total of nine summons, which he deemed as unlawful.

The case involves suspected misconduct and illegal money transfers in the development and enforcement of the Delhi excise policy 2022, which was subsequently canceled.

Although Kejriwal was not mentioned in the FIRs filed by the ED or the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Delhi excise policy case, his name appeared in the ED's chargesheet for the first time. According to the agency, Kejriwal allegedly had a video call with Sameer Mahendru, one of the main accused, and instructed him to keep working with Vijay Nair, who is also a co-accused and the AAP communications-in-charge.

Nair was one of the initial individuals to be apprehended by the CBI in 2022 regarding the case. Following that, former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh were also taken into custody in relation to the same case.

Delhi Court Extends Arvind Kejriwal's Judicial Custody Till April 1
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