ED custody of Arvind Kejriwal extended till April 1 by Delhi Court

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A Delhi court on Thursday extended the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) custody over Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal till April 1 in the money laundering case registered in connection with the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy.

Special Judge Kaveri Baweja passed the remand extension order.

Kejriwal was arrested on March 21 by the ED on allegations that he was the “key conspirator” in the money laundering case registered in the matter.

The arrest took place hours after his plea for interim protection from arrest was rejected by the Delhi High Court.

On March 22, Kejriwal was produced by the ED before judge Baweja, who initially remanded the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader to ED custody till March 28.

After the remand period ended today, the ED sought seven more days of custody over Kejriwal. The Court eventually granted four more days of custody to the ED.

Representing the ED, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju had argued that Kejriwal’s statements to the ED’s questioning has been evasive.

Raju added that Kejriwal was not cooperating with the ED, including by refusing to disclose certain passwords and income tax returns. He reiterated the ED’s claim that laundering money was used to fund the Aam Aadmi Party’s election campaign in Goa.

Notably, Kejriwal personally addressed the Delhi court today and did not oppose the ED’s remand extension request.

“Ham ED ki remand oppose nahi kar rahe. Jitne din chaahe wo mujhe custody m rakh le. Par ye ghotala hai (loose translation: I am not opposing the ED’s plea for remand. They can keep me in custody for as long as they want. But this is all a scam),” Kejriwal said.

Senior Advocate Ramesh Gupta also appeared for Kejriwal.

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Kejriwal’s submissions were strongly objected to by ASG Raju, who also questioned why attempts were being made to link the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with the excise policy case.

“He (Kejriwal) wants to play to the gallery. How does he know how many documents are with ED? This is all figment of imagination … AAP received the kickbacks which they used in Goa elections. There is a clear cut chain … The money that they say came to BJP has nothing to do with the liquor scam. There is no quid pro quo… CM is not above law. He is an ordinary man. We have material to show that this very person demanded 100 crore kickback,” Raju contended.

Kejriwal’s arrest marked the first time a sitting Chief Minister in India was put behind bars while still in office.

The ED’s move in this regard has led to several rounds of litigation before the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, in addition to the remand hearings before the trial court at the Rouse Avenue Court complex in Delhi.

A plea against Kejriwal’s arrest was first filed before the Supreme Court on the evening of March 21, but eventually withdrawn on March 22 morning.

The court battle to secure Kejriwal’s release from jail then began before a Delhi trial court on March 22.

After the trial court sent Kejriwal to ED custody, a plea was filed before the Delhi High Court challenging his arrest and remand.

On Wednesday (March 27) the High Court declined to grant any interim relief and asked the ED to file a response in the matter by April 2.

Meanwhile, a public interest litigation (PIL) petition was filed before the High Court by an activist to remove Kejriwal from the office of Delhi Chief Minister.

Hours before the remand hearing at the trial court began today, the Delhi High Court dismissed this PIL plea.

“The situation today is something that was not imagined. There is no legal bar today,” the High Court had orally observed while dismissing the PIL.

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