Delhi Excise Policy: Arvind Kejriwal Moves HC Challenging ED Arrest, Hearing Unlikely Before Mar 27

Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has filed a petition in the high court challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money-laundering case related to the alleged excise policy scam. However, it is unlikely that the court will grant an urgent hearing.

Sources within the court have indicated that the plea is unlikely to be heard before March 27 due to the court’s closure for Holi. Kejriwal’s lawyers have requested that the matter be listed for hearing on Sunday, citing the challenge to the custody of a constitutional functionary by a central agency.

“The petitioner, being a chief minister, seeks an urgent hearing from the court,” the sources stated. “It is requested that the matter be listed on March 24 since the custody of a constitutional functionary by an agency of the central government is challenged. The present writ petition also raises an issue of liberty and the exercise of arbitrary powers by a central agency in a federal setup in the midst of the general election 2024,” the plea reads, according to the sources.

On Friday, a trial court extended Kejriwal’s custody to the ED until March 28 “for his detailed and sustained interrogation.”

In his plea, Kejriwal, who was arrested by the ED on the evening of March 21, has argued that his arrest and remand are illegal and that he is entitled to be released from custody immediately.

The ED arrested Kejriwal shortly after the high court declined to provide him protection from coercive action by the federal anti-money laundering agency.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader had previously approached the court to quash and set aside all proceedings, including summonses, issued against him. In that petition, Kejriwal stated that he is a “vocal critic” of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre, an opposition leader, and a partner in the INDIA bloc. He argued that the ED, being under the Union government’s control, has been “weaponized.”

The case revolves around alleged corruption and money laundering in the formulation and execution of the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22, which was later scrapped. Senior AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are in judicial custody in connection with the case.

Kejriwal’s name has been mentioned multiple times in the chargesheets filed by the ED. The agency has alleged that the accused were in touch with Kejriwal to formulate the excise policy, which resulted in undue benefits to them. In return, they purportedly paid kickbacks to him.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte