No interim relief to Kejriwal on plea challenging arrest, BJP hits out at AAP leader


The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Enforcement Directorate on a petition moved by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal challenging his arrest and also challenging ED remand granted by the trial court, while not granting any immediate relief.

While BJP leaders continued their attack on the Delhi Chief Minister in the excise policy case,
saying “money looted in a liquor scam for Goa and Punjab election campaigns,” AAP leaders said the Central Government was resorting to a political conspiracy to undermine democratically elected opposition governments using the Enforcement Directorate.

On a petition moved by Kejriwal, the bench of Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma stated that the respondent 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, which is applicable to both parties and not one.

The court, while fixing matter for April 3, 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.PC ordinarily.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Kejriwal, submitted that a sitting CM was arrested one week ago during the Model Code of Conduct. “The heart of democracy is a levelplaying 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 to release me now because the foundation of my arrest is flawed,” he said.

Appearing for the Enforcement Directorate, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju sought time to file a detailed reply in the matter and alleged that “they deliberately didn’t serve us a copy so that we are not prepared”.

“You talk of a level-playing field and their yardsticks are different,” he said. 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 the petitioner has been “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 the 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 is the major beneficiary of the proceeds of crime generated in the alleged liquor scam.

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, in which 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, the then deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh were arrested in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, Union Minister Smriti Irani lashed out at Kejriwal over the alleged liquor scam and said he does not want any investigation against himself.

She stated at the Times Now Summit that the Supreme Court has said that there is a money trail in the liquor scam. Kejriwal skipped 9 summonses issued by the ED.

“They AAPused money looted in a liquor scam for Goa and Punjab election campaigns,” she alleged.
Union Minister Anurag Thakur also attacked Kejriwal. Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva said AAP leader should step down from the post of the Delhi Chief Minister.

“Our demand is that because Arvind Kejriwal is corrupt and has looted Delhi, he should resign. AAP is shielding the thieves. A person in custody is maintaining his position as a CM. How is this ethical? AAP should think this through, and Kejriwal should resign,” Sachdeva told ANI

With BJP leaders demanding Kejriwal’s resignation and apprehensions among opposition leaders of the Centre imposing President’s rule in the national capital, senior AAP leader and Delhi Minister Atishi said no constitutional provision bars “governance from jail”.

The Delhi Minister alleged that it is a political conspiracy of the BJP-led Central Government to undermine democratically elected opposition governments using the Enforcement Directorate.

“The BJP is leveraging institutions such as the CBI, ED, and Election Commission to target opposition parties and leaders, particularly Arvind Kejriwal, the only leader Narendra Modi fears and sees as a challenger,” Atishi said.

“The Representation of People’s Act, 1951, clearly states about the disqualification of a Chief Minister or legislator- a person convicted for an offence and sentenced to two years or above shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction. This does not apply to a person who is only accused and has not been adjudged as guilty by a court of law. And the GNCTD Act is also very clear that one cannot continue serving as the Chief Minister if they have lost the majority in the house,” she added.
Atishi also said that ED, which has been investigating for two years, had no answers to the
questions of Arvind Kejriwal’s lawyers and the Delhi High Court today “so they sought time from the court”.

Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal was seen leaving the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office after meeting him on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal on Wednesday addressed a preparatory meeting of Delhi and Haryana leaders for the “Maharally” at Ramlila Maidan, New Delhi scheduled on March 31.

The rally is being organised to protest against the arrest of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and former CM of Jharkhand Hemant Soren by the Enforcement Directorate and the freezing of the Congress’ bank accounts.

In his post on X, Venugopal said that the suppression of democracy is unacceptable and INDIA bloc will fight against it.

“In preparation of the INDIA Mega Rally at the Ram Leela Maidan, Delhi on March 31, held a meeting with leaders from Delhi and Haryana at the AICC HQ today. The environment of authoritarianism and the blatant suppression of democracy is unacceptable. The people are disgusted with this. INDIA will never let it happen. We will fight back,” he said.

AAP legislators protested against Kejriwal’s arrest at the Assembly on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, during the protests outside the Delhi Assembly against the arrest of CM Arvind Kejriwal, AAP Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said that everyone here is in a t-shirt that says ‘Mai Bhi Kejriwal’.

“We oppose the dictatorship of the BJP. They are raiding our people during the election time. Four of our big leaders are jailed… They have crossed the limits of dictatorship. They are pressuring the AAP. They are trying to make our government fall. We will keep fighting.”

Atishi, who was also protesting outside the Assembly, said that a sitting Chief Minister has been arrested for the first time in the country after the announcement of elections, which amounts to an “attack on democracy”.