Enforcement Directorate’s mission is to finish AAP, Arvind Kejriwal tells Delhi court

ED’s custody of Mr. Kejriwal extended till April 1; he does not oppose the ED’s extension request in court

Updated - April 09, 2024 11:41 am IST

Published - March 28, 2024 08:00 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal comes out after appearing before the court an alleged Delhi excise policy case, in New Delhi on March 28, 2024.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal comes out after appearing before the court an alleged Delhi excise policy case, in New Delhi on March 28, 2024. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Enforcement Directorate’s mission is to finish the Aam Aadmi Party, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal told a court in New Delhi on March 28, even as his remand to the custody of the ED was extended till April 1. When produced in court, Mr. Kejriwal said he did not wish to oppose the ED’s request for further custody.

Speaking outside the court, he also termed the alleged excise policy scam as a “political conspiracy”, adding that the “people of the country will reply”.

Also read: Arvind Kejriwal arrest, Delhi High Court live news - April 9

Special Judge Kaveri Baweja of the Rouse Avenue Courts passed the remand extension order as the initial seven-day custody period ended on March 28. The ED had sought seven more days; the court granted a four-day extension. Mr. Kejriwal was arrested by the Central agency on March 21 in a money laundering case filed in connection with the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22, and has been in its custody since then.

Personally arguing his case in Hindi, Mr. Kejriwal said that the ED had two missions, the first of which was to finish off the AAP. “ED ka mission kewal aur kewal mujhe fasana tha [ED’s only mission was to implicate me],” said the AAP’s national convenor.

‘Extortion racket’

Alleging that the ED was running an extortion racket in the name of its investigation, Mr. Kejriwal pointed out that a firm named in the alleged excise policy scam had donated money to the ruling BJP, after which its owners managed to secure bail.

“Sarath Reddy [director of Aurobindo Pharma] has donated ₹55 crore to the BJP. I have proof that it’s an extortion racket,” he said.

Questioning his arrest, the Delhi CM claimed that the only evidence against him was statements made by the co-accused in the case. “There were three statements, but the ED only produced those statements in the court in which I am named. Why? There are statements in which I am not named. Why were they not produced in the court?” Mr. Kejriwal said, asking whether a sitting Chief Minister could be arrested merely on the basis of the statements of a few accused-turned-approvers.

Also read: Arvind Kejriwal arrest updates - March 27

‘Insufficient evidence’

He also questioned the ED’s allegations that C. Aravind had told the agency that he had given some documents to AAP leader Manish Sisodia in Mr. Kejriwal’s presence. “MLAs come to my house every day. Is this statement sufficient to implicate me in the case?” Mr. Kejriwal asked.

Another witness named by the ED had given seven statements, in six of which Mr. Kejriwal had not been mentioned. “In the seventh statement, he brings in my name and he is immediately released,” the Delhi CM said.

Responding to Mr. Kejriwal, the ED’s counsel, Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, said that he was giving evasive replies during the interrogation and was refusing to share the passwords of his accounts with the agency. He added that AAP chief was playing to the gallery by attacking the ED, and maintained that the agency has material to show that he had demanded ₹100 crore.

Money laundering case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a first information report (FIR) on the Delhi excise policy in 2022 on the complaint of the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi. He alleged multiple irregularities in the formation and implementation of the policy, which was subsequently withdrawn.

After the CBI case, the ED filed a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, alleging that the money earned through the excise policy had been diverted through “hawala” channels to be spent on the AAP’s campaign in Goa ahead of the State Assembly election there in 2022.

Former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh were arrested in connection with the case last year, and have been in judicial custody ever since. K. Kavitha, a Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) legislator from Telangana, was also arrested by the ED in the same case earlier this month and was sent to Judicial custody on Tuesday.

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