Arvind Kejriwal asked for ₹100 crore as kickbacks, Enforcement Directorate tells Supreme Court

Additional Solicitor-General S.V. Raju said, “There is material that he (Arvind Kejriwal) demanded ₹100 crore. It was generated, sent to Goa and used for campaigning. We have direct evidence to prove that he stayed in a seven-star hotel in Goa.”

Updated - May 16, 2024 10:18 pm IST

Published - May 16, 2024 08:01 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that his arrest was politically motivated with the ED acting as a ‘tool’ of the ruling party at the Centre.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that his arrest was politically motivated with the ED acting as a ‘tool’ of the ruling party at the Centre. | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) told the Supreme Court on May 16 that a complaint against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in the pipeline and there is direct evidence of its national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal “demanding” ₹100 crore as kickbacks in the liquor policy case.

Appearing before a Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, Additional Solicitor-General S.V. Raju, for the ED, said it could even attach an equivalent of the alleged proceeds of crime. The ED said it was not driven by political motives to arrest Mr. Kejriwal on March 21.

“There is material that he demanded ₹100 crore. It was generated, sent to Goa and used for campaigning. We have direct evidence to prove that he stayed in a seven-star hotel in Goa. His bills ran into lakhs. A portion of it was paid from the general administrative department of the Delhi government and the rest by Charanpreeet Singh (an accused). This is solid evidence,” Mr. Raju submitted.

The court is hearing Mr. Kejriwal’s petition challenging a Delhi High Court decision upholding his arrest. The Chief Minister had questioned the timing of his arrest, just days after the Model of Conduct came into force, arguing that it was politically motivated with the ED acting as a “tool” of the ruling party, BJP, at the Centre. The apex court Bench had granted Mr. Kejriwal interim bail to campaign for the polls. He was ordered to surrender on June 2.

Mr. Raju said the agency had statements backing allegations that Mr. Kejriwal had met with the liquor lobby, and he had not met them with charitable motives in mind. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, also for the ED, said the money transactions allegedly involved in the case cannot be described as political funding, but amounted to corruption.

The ED drew parallels between a ‘company’ and a political party like AAP in a bid to pin Section 70 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on Mr. Kejriwal. The provision deals with the liability of a person heading a ‘company’. The agency argued that Mr. Kejriwal was the AAP chief. He was the one who took the final calls.

The agency argued that an investigating officer (IO) under the PMLA need not reveal or record every bit of material he has in his possession in the arrest order, though he should consider every one of these materials before going ahead with the arrest.

“At the time of arrest, the IO needs to consider if he was in possession of material concerning a particular aspect, like kickbacks to the tune of ₹100 crore. Other considerations or elaborate evidence in the case would be considered at the time of bail to decide if the accused was prima facie innocent or guilty. Asking to consider every bit of evidence, positive and negative, in the case at the time of the arrest, would be like putting the cart before the horse,” Mr. Raju argued.

This was in response to the court’s query whether the ED officer had considered factors in favour of and against the arrest. Mr. Raju said an ED officer cannot be expected to write a judgment before proceeding with an arrest.

However, the court made it clear that the ED had been in a position to either postpone the arrest or could have arrested Mr. Kejriwal before. The court said its examination of the case would stop at the date of the arrest. The court would judicially review if the contours and requirements of arrest under Section 19 of the PMLA were complied with by the agency.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, for Mr. Kejriwal, is expected to give his rejoinder to the court to the ED’s submissions, after which the case would reserve judgment.

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