Probe against Kejriwal at nascent stage: Enforcement Directorate to HC

Delhi CM’s counsel, though, questions timing of arrest ahead of upcoming general election; Additional Solicitor General submits that the probe agency was ‘not shooting in the dark’ as there was I-T data and WhatsApp chats

April 03, 2024 10:57 pm | Updated 10:57 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal being brought to appear before Rouse Avenue Court in connection with the alleged money laundering case linked to the Delhi excise policy case in New Delhi on Monday.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal being brought to appear before Rouse Avenue Court in connection with the alleged money laundering case linked to the Delhi excise policy case in New Delhi on Monday. | Photo Credit: ANI

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday opposed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest and remand in connection with the now-scrapped excise policy-linked money laundering case, saying that its “investigation is at a nascent stage” as far as he was concerned.

“Today, as far as petitioner [Mr. Kejriwal] is concerned, investigation is not over. He has come [to court] at the beginning of investigation when he has just been arrested. Investigation is at a nascent stage,” additional solicitor general (ASG) S.V. Raju told Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, who reserved judgment on Mr. Kejriwal’s plea.

During the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek M. Singhvi, representing the Chief Minister, questioned the timing of arrest of the AAP national convenor ahead of an upcoming general election saying: “This case reeks of timing issues”.

Track Arvind Kejriwal news April 3 updates here

“If the first summon is October 30, 2023 in a liquor scam of early 2022 and arrest is of March 2024, then the timing reeks of basic structure issue, democracy issue, level playing field issue, free and fair election issue,” Mr. Singhvi argued.

Mr. Raju, appearing for the ED, objected to the allegations emphasising that the probe began in 2022 when there were no elections and the arrest was according to law.

“Take the case of a terrorist who is a politician who has blown up an army vehicle. He says I’ve to stand in the elections, so you can’t touch me. What kind of an argument is this?” Mr. Raju remarked adding “criminals are supposed to be arrested and put in jail”.

Mr. Singhvi objected to the analogy terming it “inappropriate”.

The ASG said the agency was “not shooting in the dark” and there was Income Tax data, WhatsApp chats and statements of “hawala operators”.

Aam aadmi [common man] has to go behind the bars, irrespective of whether there are elections or not, but I am a chief minister so you can’t put me behind the bars...Why? Because it’s before elections, basic structure is violated. What kind of basic structure is this!” the ASG argued.

“The money trail is there. We have located the money trail. It may be that the money has been used of. The money can’t be found. That does not mean that offence of money laundering has not taken place,” Mr. Raju said adding that the money was used by AAP in the 2022 Goa Assembly election.

“The beneficiary was AAP, the offence committed by AAP,” Mr. Raju said adding that Mr. Kejriwal was responsible for the affairs of AAP at the relevant time when kickbacks were taken and money laundering was done.

“We are also wanting to attach some property of AAP,” he added.

Mr. Kejriwal was arrested on March 21. On Monday, a court here sent him to judicial custody for two weeks. The case pertains to the alleged corruption and money laundering in the formulation and execution of the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22, which was later scrapped.

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