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No Relief From HC, Kejriwal To Stay In Jail; AAP Mulls Moving SC

| Updated: April 10, 2024 12:49

Arvind Kejriwal will have to stay in jail as Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to give him any relief in his March 21 arrest in the alleged liquor policy scam. The Delhi CM’s Aam Aadmi Party responded swiftly, confirming, within the hour, that it will appeal to the Supreme Court.
The court noted the Enforcement Directorate submitted material to suggest the Aam Aadmi Party leader had conspired to formulate the now-scrapped policy and was involved in demanding alleged kickbacks of ₹ 100 crore, some of which was used to fund campaign expenses for the 2022 Goa election.

The court also noted the ED’s submission of statements by approvers (accused turned government witnesses) and an AAP Goa candidate claiming he had been paid with the alleged kickbacks.

Kejriwal’s arrest was therefore ruled valid and his plea dismissed. The court, therefore, upheld earlier remand orders – which sent him to the ED’s custody and then to Delhi’s Tihar Jail till April 15.

Kejriwal is the first sitting chief minister to be taken into custody.

Reading out the verdict – scheduled for 2:30 pm and then delayed to 3:15 pm – the court took a dim view of Kejriwal’s arguments from April 3, in which he questioned approvers’ statements.

The court said doubting grant of pardon to accused (in exchange for information implicating other accused) “amounts to casting aspersions on the judicial process”. “The law is over 100 years old… it is not a one-year-old law falsely enacted to implicate the petitioner,” the court said sternly.

Last week, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued, “… in first statements there will be nothing against me. Some are arrested and, for first time, they give a statement against me and get bail. Then they get pardon and become approver.”

There was reference back then to the Supreme Court granting bail to AAP MP Sanjay Singh, who was arrested in this case. The court noted that one of the approvers did not initially implicate Singh.

The Delhi HC, though, noted that Kejriwal would have an opportunity to inspect and question all such documents, but at “the appropriate stage”. “… this is not that stage,” it said.

The court also shot down questions over the timing of the arrest.

Kejriwal and the AAP have alleged the arrest was timed for just before the Lok Sabha election – to side-line the party’s senior-most leaders, including the Chief Minister, and disrupt campaign plans.

“‘Level playing field’ (before an election) is not just a phrase. It is part of ‘free and fair elections’ which is part of a democratic structure. This case reeks of timing issues,” Mr Singhvi said.

“What is this urgency? I am not talking about politics… I am talking about law,” he continued, arguing the arrest was meant to “demolish Aam Aadmi Party before first vote is cast”.

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