ED acted in most highhanded manner in excise policy case, Kejriwal

NEW DELHI, Apr 27: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday told the Supreme Court that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has acted in a “most highhanded manner” in a money-laundering case stemming from the alleged excise policy scam.

In a rejoinder to the ED’s reply affidavit filed on his petition challenging his arrest in the case, Kejriwal said he has always cooperated with the investigation.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader said the ED, in its reply affidavit filed in the apex court, has said that one of the reasons which necessitated his arrest was that he did not remain present before the investigating officer (IO) despite being summoned nine times.

Kejriwal said the ED has said in its reply that in such a case, the IO was justified in forming an opinion that custodial interrogation would lead to “a qualitatively more elicitation orientated” questioning of the accused.
“The aforementioned tenor, text and contents of the reply leave no manner of doubt that the ED has acted in a most highhanded manner in a gross affront to the due process of law,” he said.

Kejriwal further claimed that a cumulative reading of the ED’s stand in its reply would expose the “bogey and blatant falsehood” in the conduct of its proceedings.

He said the record would reveal that each and every summons issued to him was duly responded to while seeking vital details and information, which under no circumstances can be claimed to be privileged or confidential by the ED.

Kejriwal claimed that the ED has never spelt out the alleged non-cooperation by him.
“What was the requirement in not calling the petitioner (Kejriwal) either through an authorised agent or seeking information or documents from him in writing or through a virtual mode and insisting on his presence physically in person, is not forthcoming,” he said.

The AAP leader said his plea deserves to be allowed and he is entitled to be released forthwith.
In its reply affidavit filed in the apex court earlier this week, the ED has claimed that Kejriwal is the “kingpin and key conspirator” of the excise policy scam and the arrest of a person for an offence based on material can never violate the “concept of free and fair elections”.

The ED also claimed that Kejriwal worked in collusion with his ministers and AAP leaders and was also involved in “demanding kickbacks” from liquor businessmen in exchange for favours granted in the policy.
Terming Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest as “devoid of merit” and liable to be dismissed, the ED has said the material that formed the basis for the satisfaction of the IO for arresting him had been perused by different courts.

The ED arrested Kejriwal on March 21 after the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from coercive action by the federal anti-money laundering agency. He is currently lodged in Tihar jail under judicial custody.

On April 15, the top court issued a notice to the ED and sought its response to Kejriwal’s plea.
The high court had on April 9 upheld Kejriwal’s arrest in the money laundering case, saying there was no illegality about it and that the ED was left with “little option” after he skipped repeated summonses and refused to join the investigation.

The matter pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in the formulation and execution of the Delhi Government’s excise policy for 2021-22 which was later scrapped. (PTI)

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