Delhi HC seeks ED response on Kejriwal plea challenging summons issued to him

DN Bureau

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a plea moved by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal against several summons issued to him by ED in Excise policy case. Read further on Dynamite News:

Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on a plea moved by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal against several summons issued to him by ED in Excise policy case.

The bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Manoj Jain after hearing the initial submissions of both sides, listed the matter for April 22, 2024.

No formal notice was issued as ED opposed the issuance of formal notice as lawyers of ED appeared before the court on advance notice.

During the hearing, the bench asked the Kejriwal lawyers, "You are a citizen of the country, the summons is by name only. Why don't you appear before the Enforcement Directorate?"

On the issue, Singhvi said that AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh were also arrested by the agency. They have apprehended that ED will arrest him and he will appear if he is given protection.

ED, through Additional Solicitor General SV Raju and Special Counsel Zoheb Hossain, said we would reply and we opposed it on maintainability grounds.

Senior Advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Vikram Chaudhari appeared for Kejriwal also disputed/objected to the ED submissions opposing the plea on maintainability grounds.

"Declare section (2) (s) OF PMLA to be ultra vires, unconstitutional and arbitrary insofar as to the extent that it is construed to include a political party within its ambit and sweep," stated Kejriwal through a plea.

The plea further stated that the present petition is being filed in extremely urgent and emergent circumstances where such arbitrary procedure under PMLA is sought to be employed to create a non-level playing field for the impending general elections scheduled to be held from April 19 and to skew the electoral process in the favour of the ruling party at the Centre that controls the ED through Ministry of Finance.

"That said action is being taken given Petitioner's role as a vocal critic of the ruling party and his role as an opposition leader and partner of the INDIA alliance contesting the General Election to be held next year," stated the plea.

By use of such provisions of PMLA for investigation, arrest or threat thereof, ED, being in control of the Central Government, has been weaponized as a tool to coerce a change in the political landscape of the country in favour of the ruling dispensation, Kejriwal alleged.

The plea further stated that it is the case of the Petitioner that the said impugned summons dated February 26 and March 16 were sent to the Petitioner with an oblique motive to arrest the Petitioner (Kejriwal).

The investigation in the present matter has been going on since August 22, 2022, i.e., last one and a half years and after the investigation- as many as 6 Prosecution Complaints with thousands of documents stand filed.

All necessary documents/ information are already in possession of Respondent and summoning Petitioner "in person" is therefore a ploy to illegally arrest Petitioner and the present matter is a clear case of malice.

Since elaborate complaints with thousands of documents are filed by the Respondent- it is clear that all relevant material and information is already in possession of the Directorate of Enforcement.

Last week, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Rouse Avenue Court granted bail to Arvind Kejriwal on two complaints filed by ED for non-compliance with summons issued by the agency.

During the hearing, Kejriwal had appeared physically before the court.

According to the ED, the agency wants to record Kejriwal's statement in the case on issues like the formulation of policy, meetings held before it was finalized, and allegations of bribery.

In its sixth charge sheet filed in the case on December 2, 2023, naming AAP leader Sanjay Singh and his aide Sarvesh Mishra, the ED claimed that the AAP used kickbacks worth Rs 45 crore generated via the policy as part of its assembly elections campaign in Goa in 2022.

The now-scrapped excise policy was aimed "at revitalizing the city's flagging liquor business" and replacing a sales-volume-based regime with a licence fee for traders.

Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena had ordered a probe into alleged irregularities in the policy. AAP has accused Saxena's predecessor, Anil Baijal, of sabotaging the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.

Two senior AAP leaders, Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh, are in judicial custody in the case.

Sisodia, who was the then Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, was arrested by the CBI on February 26 following several rounds of questioning. On October 5, ED arrested Sanjay Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha member. (ANI)

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