Excise policy case: Kejriwal moves HC against arrest; says will return soon in message read out by wife

Kejriwal, who was apprehended by the ED on Friday night, contended that his arrest and remand were illegal and that he was entitled to be released from custody immediately.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal leaves the Rouse Avenue Court after the hearing, in New Delhi, Friday, March 22, 2024.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal leaves the Rouse Avenue Court after the hearing, in New Delhi, Friday, March 22, 2024.

New Delhi | Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday moved the Delhi High Court challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate and a trial court's six-day remand order in the money laundering case linked to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.

In his plea that also sought urgent hearing, Kejriwal, who was arrested by the ED on Thursday night, contended that his arrest and remand were illegal and he was entitled to be released from custody immediately.

AAP sources said Kejriwal's legal team urged the high court to hear the plea urgently, preferably on Sunday, but the court is unlikely to grant an urgent hearing.

According to highly placed court sources, the plea is unlikely to be heard before March 27 as the court is closed for Holi break.

The move by the chief minister came even as his wife Sunita Kejriwal in a video statement read out his message sent from the ED custody in which the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) chief said he cannot be kept behind bars for long and he will return soon to fulfil his promises to the people.

Amid a renewed demand by the BJP for his resignation, the CM also said he was not surprised at his arrest and that the "BJP people" need not be hated for this as they are "our brothers and sisters."

While the BJP slammed Kejriwal's continuation as the chief minister despite being under arrest, saying it is the most unfortunate moment in the country's political journey and the worst kind of politics, Delhi minister Atishi targeted the ED.

Atishi claimed at a news conference that the ED has not been able to establish any money trail against any AAP leader despite multiple raids, arrests and two year-long investigations in the alleged excise policy scam. The ED on Friday had alleged that Kejriwal is the "kingpin and key conspirator" in the case.

Kejriwal's party colleague and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, meanwhile, in an interview to PTI videos said if his Delhi counterpart is sent to jail the AAP will approach the court seeking permission to set up his office in prison to run his government from there.

On Friday, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act(PMLA) court had remanded Kejriwal in ED custody till March 28 "for his detailed and sustained interrogation."

The ED had arrested Kejriwal hours after the high court refused to grant him protection from coercive action by the central anti-money laundering agency.

The chief minister had approached the high court for quashing and setting aside all proceedings including the summonses issued against him.

The case pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in formulating and executing the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 which was later scrapped.

Top AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are in judicial custody in the case. Kejriwal's name has been mentioned multiple times in the charge sheets filed by the ED.

The agency has alleged that the accused were in touch with Kejriwal for formulating the excise policy that resulted in undue benefits to them in return for which they paid kickbacks to the AAP.

The video statement by Sunita Kejriwal, a former IRS officer who has so far maintained a distance from active politics, was streamed live by the AAP.

"Whether inside or outside, every moment of my life is dedicated to serving the country. Every drop of my blood is dedicated to the country," Kejriwal was quoted as saying by his wife.

"Aisi salakhein nahi jo aapke bhai, bete ko zyada din andar rakh sakhe(No jail can keep your brother, your son inside for long). I will soon come out and fulfil my promise," he said in the message in Hindi.

Kejriwal said he was born to wage struggles and is destined for bigger challenges in future as well, so he was not surprised by his arrest.

"Together, we have to make India a great country, the strongest and number one country in the world. There are many forces inside and outside India that are weakening the country. We need to be cautious so as to identify these forces and defeat them," she said reading out Kejriwal's message.

"I have received a lot of love from you. I must have done virtuous actions in my previous birth that I was born in a great country like India. I have blessings of crores of people that is my strength," said the message.

Kejriwal also appealed to AAP volunteers that the work of social and public service should not stop because he was in custody.

"Also, the BJP people need not be hated for this. They are our brothers and sisters. I will return soon," Kejriwal was quoted as saying by his wife, who had the Indian flag and pictures of B R Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh in the backdrop of the video.

The chief minister also assured the women of Delhi that he will fulfil the promise of providing them monthly Rs 1,000 honorarium announced in the budget, after returning from custody.

Union minister Anurag Thakur took a swipe at Kejriwal on the issue of morality.

"The kingpin has been arrested and the one who gave us wisdom on morality and honesty says he will run the government from jail," Thakur told a news conference, noting that somebody like RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, convicted in cases related to fodder scam, at least chose to install his wife as Bihar chief minister in his place before being arrested.

In his interview, Mann also asserted that no one can take the place of Kejriwal in AAP because he created the party out of the anti-corruption movement and is its senior founder member.

"It is not written anywhere that a government cannot run from jail," he said when asked how Kejriwal will run his government if he is sent to judicial custody.

"The law says he can work from jail till found guilty. We will seek permission from the Supreme Court, High Court for setting up office in the jail and the government will function."

Minister Atishi, meanwhile, alleged that the party office in Delhi was "sealed" from all sides and that the party will report the matter to the Election Commission.

A Delhi Police officer refuted the allegation. Police personnel were deployed at DDU Marg to stop the gathering of people since prohibitory orders were imposed there, the officer said.

In a post on X, Atishi questioned the "sealing" of the party office, saying it goes against the concept of having a "level playing field" in elections as promised by the Constitution.

No urgent listing in HC of Kejriwal's plea against arrest in excise policy case

New Delhi | Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday moved the Delhi High Court challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the money laundering case linked to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam but the court is unlikely to grant an urgent hearing.

According to highly placed court sources, the plea is unlikely to be heard before March 27 as the court is closed for Holi.

Sources in his Aam Aadmi Party had said his legal team would request the high court to hear the matter urgently, preferably on Sunday.

On Friday, a trial court had remanded him in ED's custody till March 28 "for his detailed and sustained interrogation".

In his plea, Kejriwal, who was apprehended by the ED on Friday night, contended that his arrest and remand were illegal and that he was entitled to be released from custody immediately.

The ED had arrested Kejriwal hours after the high court refused to grant him protection from coercive action by the central anti-money laundering agency.

Kejriwal had approached the high court for quashing and setting aside all proceedings including the summonses issued against him.

In that petition, Kejriwal said he is a "vocal critic" of the ruling party, an opposition leader and a partner in the INDIA bloc, and the ED, being under the Centre's control, has been "weaponised".

The case pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in formulating and executing the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 which was later scrapped.

Top AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are in judicial custody in the case.

Kejriwal's name has been mentioned multiple times in the charge sheets filed by the ED.

The agency has alleged that the accused were in touch with Kejriwal for formulating the excise policy that resulted in undue benefits to them in return for which they paid kickbacks to the AAP.

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