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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Excise 'scam': Delhi High Court lists for May 15 Arvind Kejriwal's plea against ED summons

The agency's lawyer told the court that the arrest was challenged by Kejriwal in a separate petition, which was dismissed by the high court, and his appeal is currently pending in the Supreme Court

PTI New Delhi Published 22.04.24, 02:48 PM
Arvind Kejriwal.

Arvind Kejriwal. File picture.

The Delhi High Court on Monday listed for hearing on May 15 Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's petition challenging the summonses issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with its probe into an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

A bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait granted time to the AAP leader, arrested by the agency on March 21 after the high court refused to grant him interim protection from coercive action, to file a rejoinder to the reply submitted by the ED.

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The counsel for the ED argued that the petition has become infructuous as Kejriwal has already been arrested in the money laundering case.

"The affidavit addresses preliminary issues (of) how the matter is (now) infructuous," he said.

The agency's lawyer told the court that the arrest was challenged by Kejriwal in a separate petition, which was dismissed by the high court, and his appeal is currently pending in the Supreme Court.

The bench, also comprising Justice Manoj Jain, then asked as to "what is left in the matter".

Senior counsel appearing for Kejriwal said he would file a rejoinder to the ED's stand, emphasising that the "initial action" taken by the anti-money laundering agency was not as per the law (PMLA).

"Senior counsel for the petitioner seeks time to file a rejoinder. Let needful be done in two weeks," the court said.

The AAP national convenor had approached the high court in the wake of the ninth summons issued by the ED asking him to appear before it on March 21. The high court bench had on March 20 asked the ED to file its reply with respect to the maintainability of the petition.

The next day, it asked ED to also respond to Kejriwal's plea seeking protection from arrest, saying "at this stage" it was not inclined to grant him any interim relief. Kejriwal was arrested by the ED later that evening and is currently lodged in Tihar jail in judicial custody.

The federal probe agency has alleged that other accused in the case were in touch with Kejriwal for formulating the now-scrapped excise policy that resulted in undue benefits to them and kickbacks to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

In his petition, Kejriwal has also challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) with respect to arrest, questioning and grant of bail.

He has raised several issues, including whether a political party is covered under the anti-money laundering law. It alleged that "arbitrary procedure" under PMLA was being used to create a non-level playing field for the general elections to "skew the electoral process in the favour of the ruling party at the Centre".

Stating the petitioner is a "vocal critic" of the ruling party and a partner of the opposition INDIA bloc, the plea claimed that the ED, being under control of the Union government, has been "weaponized".

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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