Court issues new summons to Kejriwal

The Asian Age.

Metros, Delhi

Enforcement Directorate filed a fresh complaint seeking prosecution of the AAP leader for skipping multiple summonses

Arvind Kejriwal. (ANI File)

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court has issued a fresh summons to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, asking him to appear physically on March 16, after the Enforcement Directorate filed a fresh complaint before it seeking prosecution of the AAP leader for skipping multiple summonses issued to him in a money laundering case in connection with the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy.

The ED, which wants to question Mr Kejriwal in connection with the Delhi excise policy case, told the court that the Delhi chief minister had skipped multiple summonses issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Mr Kejriwal has skipped as many as eight summonses issued by the ED. He has accused the Narendra Modi government of misusing the Central agencies, such as the ED, to target Opposition leaders. The last summons by the agency was issued late in February and set March 4 as the date of questioning.

The AAP leader skipped the summonses, calling them "illegal," but said he was ready to appear before the agency through videoconferencing. The ED, however, insisted on a physical appearance and said there is no provision for questioning via videoconferencing.

Mr Kejriwal has hit out at the Centre over the summonses. “Those who refuse to join the BJP are sent to jail. Mr Jain, Mr Sisodia and Mr Singh will get bail tomorrow if they join the BJP today. Even I will stop getting ED summons if I join the BJP now,” he said.

The AAP leader said several court rulings have held that the ED must inform in what capacity a person is being summoned. “Unfortunately, the Central government refuses to follow court orders and considers itself above the law,” he said. 

The ED has earlier arrested two top AAP leaders, Delhi's former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, in the money laundering case relating to Delhi's now-scrapped excise policy.

Mr Kejriwal's name has been mentioned multiple times in chargesheets filed by the ED. The agency has said that the accused in the case were in touch with the chief minister during the preparation of the excise policy.

The ED had claimed in its chargesheet that the AAP used "proceeds of crime" to the tune of about `45 crores in its Goa Assembly polls campaign.

It is alleged that the Delhi government's excise policy to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge repeatedly refuted by the AAP.

The policy was subsequently scrapped and Delhi's lieutenant-governor V.K. Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the irregularities in its formulation and implementation. Later, the ED registered a case under the PMLA.