New Delhi | Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday refused to depose before the Enforcement Directorate for the fourth time and termed the summonses issued to him "illegal" and part of a "political conspiracy" to arrest him before the Lok Sabha polls.
In his reply to the summons, Kejriwal said he is busy with the budget preparations for Delhi. The Delhi budget will be presented in the Assembly in the session starting from February 15.
According to sources, he also accused the ED of using "derogatory language" in its communication and said that it "displays your disrespect for the constitutional office of the chief minister and your predetermination in the matter".
Earlier in the day, Kejriwal attended the Excellence in Education Awards of the Delhi government and then left for Goa as per his schedule to take stock of the Aam Aadmi Party's preparations for the Lok Sabha polls, sources said.
On the sidelines of the Delhi government event, when he was asked about the ED summonses, Kejriwal said he was issued a summons by the central probe agency last week for the fourth time, asking him to appear before it on January 18 or January 19.
"The BJP is running the ED. They only intend to arrest me so that I cannot campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections," the chief minister alleged and said that he has sent his reply to the central agency.
"The four notices sent to me are illegal... Such general, non-specific notices have been quashed in the past by the courts. I have repeatedly written to the ED, saying the notices are illegal but they have not replied to me," he told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
Alleging that the notices are being sent under a "political conspiracy", Kejriwal said the probe into the excise policy case has been going on for two years but "nothing" has been found yet. "False statements are being extracted out of people by beating them," he alleged.
According to AAP sources, Kejriwal refused to appear in person before the Enforcement Directorate as he found the probe agency's communication accompanying the fourth summons issued on January 12 as "arbitrary, mala fide and illegal".
Sources said the chief minister has alleged in his reply that the ED was summoning him at the behest of the BJP, "not for any specific investigation or for recording any statement" but to "arrest him to prevent him from discharging his constitutional and statutory duties and from campaigning in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections".
Referring to the fourth summons and the communication sent along with it by the ED last week, Kejriwal, in his reply, said the ED response is full of "contradictions", and "incorrect facts/law and vague".
"He stated that in a country governed by the rule of law, the language and tenor of ED's communication ignores this basic tenet and demonstrates the arbitrary and biased approach, which is contrary to all norms and constitutional principles," a party source said citing his reply and added that ED has made several "baseless" accusations against him.
In his reply, Kejriwal reiterated that the ED had still not specified whether he was being summoned as an accused or a witness. Sources said that in its summons to Kejriwal, the probe agency has accused him of leaking the summons to the media.
The chief minister has alleged that the summonses were leaked by the agency to the media and the BJP. "It appears that the purpose of your summons is not an investigation but to tarnish my image and harm me politically," the source said, citing his reply.
The source said the ED also accused him of not cooperating in investigations by not appearing before it. Raising legal concerns for his non-appearance, Kejriwal noted that the "processes and summons must be in accordance with law".
"It is a matter of record that similar vague and non-specific summons have been declared invalid and quashed by courts of law."
The AAP national convener, in his reply, said he has always been a law-abiding citizen and recalled how he went to the CBI office on April 16 last year. He underlined that he had "never used any excuse, extraneous reasons or disobeyed any legally valid summon".
Sources said that the chief minister accused the ED of issuing a summons for investigation to him at the behest of the BJP.
"The timing of summons being issued by you in the middle of elections for an investigation, which has been going on for almost two years now, is clearly at the behest of the ruling BJP to prevent political opponents such as myself from campaigning," Kejriwal wrote in his reply to the ED.
He also cited names of leaders and said they were being probed by the ED in different cases but after they joined the BJP, the investigation against them was stopped.