Kejriwal, AKA “Kingpin,” in Liquor Case, Claims Probe Agency; Court Order Soon

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New Delhi: A Delhi court has reserved its order on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s petition challenging his late night arrest by the Enforcement Directorate. Mr Kejriwal was arrested in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam and the central agency today sought custody of the Aam Aadmi Party boss for 10 days.

The order is expected after 6 pm.

In the hearing, the probe agency called Mr Kejriwal the “kingpin” and “key conspirator” in the alleged scam. It claimed Arvind Kejriwal was the middleman between the ‘south group’ and other accused, including ex-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia (arrested last year) and AAP officer Vijay Nair.

Total proceeds of the alleged scam, the agency said, exceeded ₹ 600 crore; this includes ₹ 100 crore allegedly paid by the ‘south group’ the agency has claimed includes Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha, who was arrested last week.

Mr Kejriwal – the first sitting Chief Minister to be arrested – has denied all charges.

His party has repeatedly claimed the ED has yet to recover any allegedly illegally acquired cash. The Chief Minister – who spent the night at the agency’s office – will be represented by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

“Kingpin”: What ED Said About Kejriwal

“He was directly involved in implementation of the policy, and giving favour to the south group. He demanded kickbacks in exchange for favours… this is corroborated by statements,” Additional Solicitor-General SV Raju, argued for the Enforcement Directorate, “He is involved in use of proceeds of crime.”

The ED claimed ₹ 45 crore of the kickbacks were used to fund the AAP’s Goa and Punjab elections in 2022. The vote share of 6.8 per cent in the former confirmed AAP as a national party, and its victory over the Congress in the latter allowed it to establish a first state government outside of Delhi.

“We have examined the money trail. The money in Goa came through four routes. These allegations are also corroborated by one of AAP’s candidates… this person was paid in cash…”

The probe agency concluded its argument by calling Mr Kejriwal “the brain behind the party” and held the Chief Minister responsible for all affairs of the AAP. Mr Raju also criticised the Chief Minister for having skipped nine summons of the ED; “… he willfully disobeyed summons…” he said.

On the role of Mr Nair, the Additional Solicitor General said, “He was staying in a house given to Kailash Gahlot (Delhi’s Transport Minister) and acted as the middleman between south group and AAP.”

Kejriwal Withdraws Supreme Court Plea

Hours earlier, Mr Kejriwal’s legal team withdrew a Supreme Court plea challenging his arrest; this was shortly after the top court rejected an identical plea by the BRS’ K Kavitha. In fact, the same bench that told Ms Kavitha to go to a lower court was scheduled to hear Mr Kejriwal’s plea.

Kejriwal To Continue As Chief Minister?

Meanwhile, sources within Mr Kejriwal’s legal team have said there is no reason why the AAP boss – whose arrest weeks before a general election has sparked furious nationwide protests – cannot continue as Delhi Chief Minister. Sources said Mr Kejriwal had not been convicted, only accused.

The AAP had insisted that come what may Mr Kejriwal will function as the head of government, even if it meant doing so from inside the city’s Tihar Jail. Under the current guidelines, this might be difficult, since Mr Kejriwal will be limited to two meetings per week.

There is, however, an option, a former jail officer told. This would involve house arrest – i.e., confinement to his residence after the Lieutenant Governor, VK Saxena, permits the recognition of that building as a jail.

Arvind Kejriwal Arrested

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested Thursday evening hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from arrest. A team of 12 officials rushed to his residence, where they questioned him, seized documents and other materials, and then, at 9 pm, arrested the three-time Chief Minister.

Mr Kejriwal has been arrested in the Delhi liquor policy scam case; the central agency has accused the AAP leader of being a “conspirator”. The ED believes the now-scrapped policy provided an impossibly high profit margin of nearly 185 per cent for retailers and 12 per cent for wholesalers.

Of the latter, six per cent was to be recovered by the AAP as bribes, which amounted to over ₹ 600 crore. Nearly a third of this, the ED has alleged, was paid by a ‘south group’ that included BRS leader K Kavitha. These proceeds were then allegedly used by the AAP for election campaign expenses.

Apart from Mr Kejriwal, two prominent AAP leaders – Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia – have also been arrested in connection with this case. Mr Singh was arrested on October 5 and Mr Sisodia over a year ago – on February 26. Neither has received any relief from the top court, underlining how likely it is that Mr Kejriwal too will not get any help.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)