Supreme Court Questions Timing of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's Arrest in Excise Policy Case

The Supreme Court questions the timing and legality of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's arrest by the ED in the ₹100-crore excise policy case, raising concerns about the potential misuse of the PMLA and its impact on personal liberty.

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Rafia Tasleem
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Supreme Court Questions Timing of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's Arrest in Excise Policy Case

Supreme Court Questions Timing of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's Arrest in Excise Policy Case

The Supreme Court has raised concerns over the timing and legality of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the alleged ₹100-crore excise policy case. The court questioned why the arrest was made right before the Lok Sabha polls and sought clarification on the interpretation of Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in Kejriwal's case, as he has challenged his arrest instead of applying for bail.

During the hearing, the court asked the ED to explain the findings in the related Manish Sisodia case and the lack of attachment action so far in Kejriwal's case. The ED has been given time until May 3 to respond to the court's questions, which put the agency in a challenging position regarding the timing and legality of Kejriwal's arrest.

Senior Advocate A.M. Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, argued that the arrest did not meet the required criteria under Section 19 of the PMLA and that the accused in the case were pressured into implicating Kejriwal. Singhvi pointed out how the co-accused, including Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, Raghav Magunta Reddy, and Sarath Reddy, turned into star witnesses against Kejriwal after their arrests.

The court has directed the ED to substantially demonstrate Kejriwal's involvement in the case and to respond to the concerns raised by Singhvi regarding the timing of the arrest and the interpretation of Section 19 of the PMLA. The court emphasized the importance of personal liberty and questioned the alleged illegalities committed by the ED, which arrested Kejriwal soon after the model code of conduct came into effect for the upcoming elections.

Why this matters: The Supreme Court's intervention in Kejriwal's arrest highlights the ongoing legal and political tensions surrounding the Delhi excise policy case. The court's questioning of the ED's actions and the timing of the arrest raises concerns about the potential misuse of the PMLA and its impact on personal liberty, particularly in the context of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The ED argued that there are no special provisions under the PMLA that differentiate the arrest of a chief minister and an ordinary citizen and that the decision to arrest Kejriwal was based on substantial evidence and legal grounds. Kejriwal, in his rejoinder affidavit, contested his arrest as illegal and an unprecedented assault on the pillars of democracy, portraying the money laundering case against him as a calculated move by the ruling central government to suppress its political opposition.

Key Takeaways

  • SC questions timing, legality of Kejriwal's arrest by ED in ₹100-cr excise policy case.
  • ED asked to explain findings in Manish Sisodia case and lack of attachment action in Kejriwal's case.
  • Kejriwal's lawyer argues arrest didn't meet PMLA criteria, co-accused pressured to implicate him.
  • SC emphasizes importance of personal liberty, questions alleged illegalities by ED in Kejriwal's arrest.
  • Kejriwal contests arrest as illegal, portrays case as calculated move to suppress political opposition.