Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal Sent to CBI Custody in Excise Policy Case

Mainstream
27-Jun-2024
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In a dramatic turn of events, a Delhi court on Wednesday ordered Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to be placed in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody for three days. The ruling, delivered by Judge Amitabh Rawat of the Delhi Rouse Avenue Court, followed extensive hearings with both the CBI and Kejriwal presenting their arguments.


Earlier in the day, the CBI had formally arrested Kejriwal after Judge Rawat declined to interfere with the ongoing investigation. The central agency sought a five-day custody to further interrogate Kejriwal about his alleged involvement in the Delhi excise policy case.


During the hearing, Kejriwal personally addressed the court, vehemently denying the accusations against him and his party members, including Manish Sisodia. "Maine aesa koi bayan nahi diya hai ki Manish Sisodia doshi hai. Manish Sisodia nirdosh hai, AAP nirdosh hai, main nirdosh hu. Unka saara plan hai hame media main badnaam karne ka. CBI k sources n chalwaya... Inke saare aarop jhhute hain (I have never testified that Manish Sisodia is guilty. Manish Sisodia is innocent, AAP is innocent, I am innocent. Their aim is to malign us through media. CBI has activated its 'sources'. All their claims are false)," he asserted.


The court concurred with Kejriwal, noting, "Apki statement maine padh li hai, aapne aesa nahi kaha hai (I read your statement. You have not said what CBI has claimed (on Sisodia))."


Background


Kejriwal was initially arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21, 2024, in connection with a money laundering case linked to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. He is accused of being a key conspirator in a scheme to leave loopholes in the liquor policy, benefiting certain sellers. The ED alleged that kickbacks from these loopholes were used to fund AAP's election campaigns in Goa. This case stemmed from a complaint by Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena.


Despite being granted interim bail by the Supreme Court to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, Kejriwal returned to jail on June 2. While in judicial custody at Tihar jail, the CBI took a statement from him earlier this week with the court's permission. The CBI formally arrested Kejriwal this morning, leading to the current proceedings.


Remand Hearing Arguments


The CBI's counsel argued that Kejriwal's custodial interrogation was essential for their probe into the alleged irregularities in the 2021-22 Delhi excise policy. Advocate DP Singh, representing the CBI, stated, "We (CBI) need his (Kejriwal's) custodial interrogation... He (Kejriwal) pushed the entire onus on Manish Sisodia and said he had no idea about the excise policy. We need to confront him with documents that we have... We are not asking him to admit to something."


Kejriwal's counsel, senior advocate Vikram Chaudhari, questioned the necessity and timing of the arrest, arguing it constituted an abuse of power. "Many years back, Justice Krishna Iyer asked who will police the police? When people did not trust police, the case was referred to CBI. Today, the question is who will CBI the CBI?... This is a classic case of abuse of power," he contended.


Advocate Vivek Jain supported Chaudhari, emphasizing that the arrest appeared to be mala fide, given that Kejriwal had been granted bail in a related case just days earlier.


As the case unfolds, the court's decision to remand Kejriwal to CBI custody marks a significant development in the ongoing investigation into the alleged excise policy scam.


Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer