LIVE LIVE |  Delhi court sends Kejriwal to ED custody till March 28

LIVE | Delhi court sends Kejriwal to ED custody till March 28

The central agency said Kejriwal was the ‘kingpin’ of the scam and was directly involved in use of proceeds of crime in AAP's Goa election campaign in 2022

A Delhi court on Friday (March 22) sent Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to ED custody till March 28.

The Enforcement Directorate, seeking his 10-day custody, earlier said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was a "key conspirator" in the liquor scam case along with other ministers and AAP leaders, as it sought his 10-day custody from a court in New Delhi.

The ED told Special Judge Kaveri Baweja at the Rouse Avenue court that Kejriwal received several crores of rupees as kickbacks from the 'South group' for formulating and implementing Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

He demanded Rs 100 crore from some accused from 'South group' for contesting the Punjab elections, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, who is appearing for the agency, told the court.

The law officer said the money trail showed that Rs 45 crore "kickback" used in Goa elections came from four hawala routes.

He said the statements of the accused and witnesses have been corroborated by Call Detail Records (CDR).

ASG SV Raju is appearing for the agency, while Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi is representing Kejriwal.

Kejriwal was produced in the trial court shortly after he withdrew from the Supreme Court his plea against arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the excise policy-linked money laundering case.

Kejriwal's counsel said he would contest the remand proceedings before the trial court and then come back to the apex court with another petition.

Plea withdrawn

Earlier, Kejriwal withdrew from Supreme Court his plea against arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, told the Supreme Court that Kejriwal was withdrawing the petition as it was clashing with the remand. Singhvi said he would file a fresh plea with the Court Registry, challenging the remand.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court was on Friday set to hear Kejriwal’s plea against his arrest by the ED in an excise policy-linked money-laundering case.

Kejriwal had moved the Supreme Court late Thursday after the ED arrested him and took him to the agency's headquarters.

What happened on Thursday

The arrest, the first of a sitting chief minister, came hours after the Delhi High Court refused to protect the AAP national convenor from any coercive action by the agency.

The 55-year-old leader's arrest, amid campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, drew angry reactions from his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The party said Kejriwal "will continue as the chief minister of Delhi. If need be, he will run the government from jail." The BJP though demanded that Kejriwal step down as chief minister on moral grounds.

The AAP has called nationwide protest on Friday against the arrest.

In a day of fast-paced developments, a 10-member ED team led by an additional director reached his official residence on Flagstaff Road in Civil Lines in the national capital soon after the high court order and carried out searches. He was arrested more than two hours after the ED team arrived at his residence, officials said.

They said the federal agency later took Kejriwal to its office in central Delhi. This is the 16th arrest in the case by the ED. Officials said the ED would produce the chief minister before a special court on Friday and seek his custody for interrogation in the case.

The ED has filed a total of six charge sheets in this case till now and attached assets worth over Rs 128 crore.

What ED says

The ED and the CBI had alleged that the Delhi government's excise policy to grant licenses to liquor traders allowed cartelization and favored certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by AAP. The policy was subsequently scrapped and Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the irregularities in its formulation and implementation.

Kejriwal had skipped nine summonses issued by the agency for questioning in the case, the latest being for Thursday, March 21. He has called these summonses "illegal".

As the ED officials carried out their action inside, additional Delhi Police personnel and Rapid Action Force (RAF) and CRPF teams were deployed around the chief minister's residence.

Sources said that additional deployment was made as the ED sought extra security measures in anticipation of protests by AAP supporters.

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