Delhi HC rejects Kejriwal's plea against ED arrest


India, All India

The AAP said Kejriwal will move the Supreme Court against his arrest and the “biggest political conspiracy to finish the party”

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal leaves from the Rouse Avenue Court in the excise policy-linked money laundering case, in New Delhi, Thursday, March 28, 2024. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: In a major setback to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed his petition challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in an excise policy-linked money laundering case. The AAP said Kejriwal will move the Supreme Court against his arrest and the “biggest political conspiracy to finish the party”.

Asserting that judges are bound by law and not by political considerations, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said political considerations and equations cannot be brought to the court of law as they are irrelevant. “This court is only concerned with upholding constitutional morality,” she observed.

Hours after the High Court observed that the ED was in possession of “enough material” which led to Kejriwal’s arrest, Delhi minister Saurabh Bharadwaj claimed that “the ED and the CBI have failed to recover even one rupee of illegal money in the so-called excise policy case”.

Bharadwaj said, “The entire matter is not related to money laundering. Rather it’s the biggest political conspiracy to crush and finish off Kejriwal and the AAP governments in Delhi and Punjab. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will provide relief to Kejriwal in the same way it granted bail to AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh in the case.”

Meanwhile, the BJP seized the opportunity to attack the AAP and claimed the movement that began with “Indian against corruption” has now turned into “Kejri corruption kranti”.

The saffron-fold reiterated its demand for the Chief Minister’s resignation, with its Delhi unit president Virendra Sachdeva questioning if Kejriwal is left with any moral right to continue.

Earlier in the High Court, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma read out the judgment for about half-an-hour and also explained certain portions of her decision in Hindi. The court clarified that it was not dealing with Kejriwal’s bail plea but his writ petition challenging the arrest on certain grounds.

On the necessity of arrest, the High Court said the ED was in possession of enough material, which led them to arrest the accused. The judge also mentioned that not joining the probe is a contributing factor, but not the only factor behind Kejriwal’s arrest.

The High Court dealt with Kejriwal’s contention, questioning the credibility of the statement of approvers in the present case. The contentions were that the approvers had not implicated Kejriwal initially but only at a later stage in exchange for ensuring pardon and bail and thus the statements are unreliable.

The High Court said, “Kejriwal will have a valuable right to cross-examine these witnesses as to why they have chosen to give a statement against him after initially giving statements in which they had not implicated him. The evidentiary value of that statement will have to be adjudicated by the trial court at that stage. This court cannot step into the shoes of the trial court and conduct a mini-trial in writ jurisdiction.”