ED team reaches Delhi CM Kejriwal's residence to carry out search in excise policy case

Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials at the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal after the high court refused to grant him protection from coercive action in an excise policy-linked money laundering case, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 21, 2024.
Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials at the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal after the high court refused to grant him protection from coercive action in an excise policy-linked money laundering case, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 21, 2024.

New Delhi | Hours after the Delhi High Court denied relief to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team reached his residence here on Thursday evening to carry out a search and serve him a summons to join the probe in an excise policy-linked money laundering case, officials said.

They said a six-member team of the federal probe agency, along with an escort of the Delhi Police, reached his official residence on Flagstaff Road in the national capital.

The ED action against Kejriwal, coming amid campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, drew strong reactions from his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The agency may arrest him or take him to its office in central Delhi for questioning, sources said, even though there was no official word on the agency's likely course of action.

The high court did not grant any protection to Kejriwal from the agency's action in the case, they said.

As fresh developments unfolded through the day, Kejriwal moved the Supreme Court against the high court's order denying him any relief in the matter.

AAP leader and Delhi minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, who reached Kejriwal's residence soon after the ED team's arrival, told reporters, "It seems that the ED is carrying out raids. I have not been allowed to go inside. Its looks like ED is planning to arrest him."

According to officials, the ED team informed the staff at the chief minister's residence that it has a search warrant to raid Kejriwal's premises. They said the team will also serve summons and ask Kejriwal to join the probe.

As the ED officials carried out their action inside, additional Delhi Police personnel and Rapid Action Force (RAF) and CRPF teams were deployed around the chief minister's residence.

The additional deployment was made as the ED sought additional security measures in anticipation of protests by AAP supporters, sources said.

The 55-year-old AAP chief had earlier skipped nine summonses issued by the agency in this case, the latest being for Thursday, March 21. He has called these summons "illegal".

Earlier in the day, a Delhi High Court bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain refused to grant Kejriwal any protection from coercive action in the case.

The bench listed the AAP leader's application for further consideration on April 22 when his main petition challenging the summons is fixed for hearing, and asked the Enforcement Directorate to file its response.

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.

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.

Reacting to the ED action, AAP MP Raghav Chadha alleged a "big conspiracy" to arrest Kejriwal just before the Lok Sabha elections.

In a series of posts on X, the party said, "ED reached the house of Delhi's son @ArvindKejriwal! BJP should know that it is trying to move the mountain in whose support the entire country stands today. The people of Delhi are watching everything. No one will sit silent today."

Using the hashtag #IstandWithKejriwal, it said, "The BJP can stoop down to any level to make Arvind Kejriwal bow down. The people of the country including entire Delhi are standing with their hero Arvind Kejriwal today. This dictatorship of yours will not last. And a Kejriwal will emerge from every house."

Kejriwal is also facing an ED case in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).

Kejriwal moves SC against HC order denying him protection from coercive action

New Delhi | Hours after the high court denied him relief, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday evening rushed to the Supreme Court seeking protection from any coercive action by the Enforcement Directorate in an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

Sources said the AAP national convenor approached the top court seeking an urgent hearing of his petition after a high court division bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait refused to grant him interim protection.

The high court has listed Kejriwal's application seeking protection from coercive action for further consideration on April 22, when his main petition challenging the Enforcement Directorate's summons has been fixed for hearing.

The high court also asked the ED to file its response to Kejriwal's application seeking protection from coercive action.

"We have heard both sides and we are not inclined at this stage (to grant protection). The respondent is at liberty to file reply," the high court said.

The ED placed before the high court the documents pertaining to the probe and said there was material to show the necessity to call Kejriwal for questioning.

The application for interim relief in the high court forms part of Kejriwal's petition challenging the ED's summonses issued to him for questioning.

Kejriwal had moved the high court in the wake of the latest summons, the ninth issued by the ED, asking him to appear before it on Thursday.

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.

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.

Delhi High Court denies Kejriwal protection in ED case

New Delhi | The Delhi High Court on Thursday refused to grant Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal any protection from coercive action in an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

A bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait listed the AAP leader's application seeking protection for further consideration on April 22 when his main petition challenging the summons is fixed for hearing, and asked the Enforcement Directorate to file its response.

"We have heard both sides and we are not inclined at this stage (to grant protection). The respondent is at liberty to file reply," the bench, also comprising Justice Manoj Jain, said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) placed before the court the documents pertaining to the probe and said there was material to show the necessity to call Kejriwal for questioning.

The application for interim relief forms part of Kejriwal's petition challenging the ED's summonses issued to him for questioning.

Kejriwal had moved the court in the wake of the latest summons, the ninth issued by the ED, asking him to appear before it on Thursday.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate AM Singhvi, representing the AAP chief, also sought deferment of the summons issued for today.

"It is already over. Time is over. He is not attending," Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the ED, said, contending that a person who "flouts the law" is not entitled to be heard.

Singhvi submitted that Kejriwal's arrest was imminent as there was an attempt to create a "non-level playing field" for the upcoming general elections even though there was no necessity to apprehend him after several charge sheets have already been filed before the trial court.

"If I appear, I will be arrested without any cause or reason. You are calling me from last year. Could you not wait for two more months?" the senior lawyer said, adding the federal agency can arrest him in June after the elections are over.

The summonses, he added, were vague, frivolous, for a "roving and fishing inquiry" and a "ploy" for his "illegal arrest" amidst elections.

On being queried by the court as to what prevented him from filing a plea for anticipatory bail in the matter, Singhvi said it was unclear if the CM was being called as a witness or suspect.

Opposing the grant of protection from coercive action, ASG Raju said Kejriwal was being called for questioning in his individual capacity in a case that has been "tested" by several courts and the agency has not said anything on his arrest.

"When did we say we want to arrest? We may arrest, we may not. Our right (to arrest) is there. We said, come and give explanation," said the senior law officer.

"The matter is tested by rejection of a large number of bail of co-accused. Predicate offence is there. Money laundering is made out," he added.

ASG Raju said no relief with respect to protection from coercive action can be granted by the court when the main petition itself is not maintainable, and the law remains the same even for a chief minister.

Raju also said Kejriwal's plea for protection on the ground that a political party can't be brought within the ambit of the money laundering law was based on a "figment of imagination at this stage".

"We are calling him in his individual capacity. Tomorrow, something may happen. Vicarious liability is also there," Raju said, apparently referring to Kejriwal not holding any ministerial portfolio but heading the government.

"If relief is granted, FIR will be quashed as far as AAP is concerned. It can't be done. Neither AAP nor Arvind Kejriwal are named as accused," he said.

The submission was opposed by Singhvi who said, "Conceptually, there was nothing" for roping in the CM if not as the AAP convenor.

"There is nothing except the approver statement... My arrest is imminent. It is the leadership of AAP not individual (that is under scrutiny)," he argued.

Singhvi also contended that all summonses were issued either at the time of an election or his Vipassana trips, including the latest summons which was issued on the day the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections was announced.

He said Kejriwal cannot have a "sword hanging amidst the elections" and asked why his questioning cannot be permitted through virtual mode or under the protective orders of the court.

On Wednesday, the court had asked the investigating agency to file a response to Kejriwal's petition which sought sections 19, 45 and 50 of the PMLA, which deal with arrest, questioning and grant of bail, to be declared as unconstitutional.

The petition also prayed for quashing and setting aside of all proceedings, including the summonses, against Kejriwal in his capacity as the national convenor of a political party or as the chief minister or in any other capacity in the ED case.

In the 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.

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.

BJP trying to get Kejriwal arrested; we'll explore legal options: Atishi

New Delhi | Senior AAP leader and Delhi minister Atishi said on Thursday that it was a big victory for them that the high court did not dismiss Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's interim relief application despite strong opposition by the Enforcement Directorate and agreed to hear it later.

She said in a press conference that legal options will be considered when asked whether the refusal of the high court to grant protection to Kejriwal against coercive action by the ED will be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Atishi alleged that the BJP wanted to get Kejriwal arrested by using the Enforcement Directorate to stop him from campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls.

The Delhi High Court earlier the in day refused to grant Kejriwal any protection from coercive action in an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

A bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain listed the AAP leader's application seeking protection for further consideration on April 22 when his main petition challenging the summons is fixed for hearing.

Atishi earlier said that Kejriwal wanted to join the probe by the ED and cooperate with the agency but it wanted to arrest him.

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