Delhi Excise policy case: CBI arrests Arvind Kejriwal, gets three-day custody

Delhi CM withdraws petition from Supreme Court, with liberty to challenge Delhi High Court’s stay of his bail; says his former deputy Manish Sisodia is also innocent, claims central agencies are trying to drive a wedge between them

Updated - June 26, 2024 10:24 pm IST

Published - June 26, 2024 11:26 am IST

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at the Rouse Avenue Court in New Delhi on June 26, 2024.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at the Rouse Avenue Court in New Delhi on June 26, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) formally arrested Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the Delhi excise policy case on June 26, and was granted three days to interrogate him in its custody.

The day also saw Mr. Kejriwal withdraw his petition from the Supreme Court, while promising to return with a fresh challenge against the stay of his statutory bail by the Delhi High Court on June 25.

Appearing before a Supreme Court Vacation Bench of Justices Manoj Misra and S.V.N. Bhatti, Mr. Kejriwal’s counsel, senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, conveyed his client’s angst at the flurry of back-to-back events occurring over the past two days which have kept him in custody.

‘Overtaken by events’

“Events are overtaking us every day… On a 2022 interrogation and notice by the CBI, I [Mr. Kejriwal] have been arrested while still under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act [PMLA],” Mr. Singhvi said.

The top court dismissed as withdrawn the petition that Mr. Kejriwal filed against the Delhi High Court’s interim order to pause the operation of the bail granted to him by a trial court on June 20. Mr. Singhvi was given liberty to file a fresh and substantive petition against the High Court judgment. The CBI arrest had followed the High Court judgment.

Remanding the Chief Minister, Special Judge Amitabh Rawat of the Delhi Rouse Avenue Court asked the CBI to produce him back in court at 7 p.m. on June 29.

“Investigation is the prerogative of the investigating agency. There are certain safeguards provided in the law and at this stage, on the material on record, it cannot be said that the arrest is illegal. The agency, however, should not be overzealous,” the Special Court observed.

Also read | Arvind Kejriwal hearing Live

‘Sisodia is innocent’

Mr. Kejriwal chose to address the court in person, submitting that he and other leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party, including Delhi’s former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, were falsely implicated in the case.

He accused the Central agencies of manipulating the media by spreading false information to create a wedge in the party leadership, especially between him and Mr. Sisodia.

“I have never testified that Manish Sisodia is guilty in this matter. He is innocent and the entire AAP is innocent. I am innocent. The aim of such rumours that I have put all the onus on Sisodia is false and the agency is trying to malign us through the media,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

Mr. Kejriwal explained in court that the CBI had asked him about who had pitched for privatisation. “On this, I had said that the idea was not mine. That is all,” he said.

Custodial interrogation

The Delhi CM was initially arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 on money laundering charges linked to the liquor policy case. The ED had alleged that he was the “key conspirator” in framing the now-defunct excise policy and accused him of diverting the monetary profits gained from the policy into the AAP’s coffers for the Goa Assembly election.

CBI counsel, advocate D.P. Singh, argued that a custodial interrogation of Mr. Kejriwal was necessary as the probe had reached a crucial stage.

Mr. Kejriwal countered that his remand was unnecessary, pointing out that his name did not figure in any of the CBI chargesheets. His lawyers termed the arrest as an abuse of power.

“My client got bail from this court on June 20. This was stayed by the Delhi High Court. When did you [CBI] make me [Mr. Kejriwal] an accused? Why do you require me now? Why were you waiting for so long?” said senior advocate Vikram Chaudhari, Mr. Kejriwal’s lawyer, challenging the CBI’s plea for remand in the Special Court.

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