Kejriwal Fails to Appear Before ED
ED on Thursday raided the premises of Mr Kejriwal's Cabinet colleague Raaj Kumar Anand and some others as part of a money-laundering probe
New Delhi: Delhi chief minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday did not appear before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in a case linked to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy and wrote to the Central agency demanding the “recall” of its summons to him, calling it “vague, motivated and unsustainable in law”.
The CM’s reply is being examined by the ED, official sources
said, and indicated that a fresh date for Mr Kejriwal could be issued for a closer date as the Supreme Court has recently taken note of the prosecution’s assurance that the trial in the case will be concluded within the next six to eight months.
In another case, the ED on Thursday raided the premises of Mr Kejriwal’s Cabinet colleague Raaj Kumar Anand and some others as part of a money-laundering probe in a case by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence on charges of false declarations in imports for customs evasion of more than Rs 7 crores, apart from international hawala transactions, the sources said.
The ED had summoned Mr Kejriwal for questioning in the alleged Delhi excise policy case and to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The CBI has already questioned him in this case in February this year.
In his response to the summons, Mr Kejriwal said: “The said summons does not specify whether I am being summoned as an individual or in my official capacity as chief minister of Delhi or as national convenor of the AAP.”
The chief minister’s office said that in reply to the probe agency’s notice, Mr Kejriwal has alleged that the summons was “illegal, politically motivated” and aimed at preventing him from campaigning in poll-bound states.
Claiming that the summons was “vague, motivated and unsustainable in law”, Mr Kejriwal also said that the notice by the ED was sent to him for extraneous considerations at the behest of the BJP.
“The said summons is not clear as to the capacity in which I am being summoned as a witness or a suspect,” the chief minister said, and added the notice failed to provide details or reasons for him being called for questioning and termed it a “fishing and roving” exercise by the ED.
Under the PMLA, a person can ignore an ED summons three times and after that, the ED has the option of seeking a non-bailable warrant from a court.
“Simultaneous to the summons, in the afternoon of 30.10.2023, BJP leaders started making statements that soon I would be summoned and arrested. By the evening of that day, I received your summons.”
“It is thus apparent that the said summons was leaked to select BJP leaders to malign my image and reputation and has been issued at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre,” Mr Kejriwal alleged.
He also claimed that BJP MP Manoj Tiwari had “openly” said on the afternoon of October 30 -- the day the summons was issued to Mr Kejriwal -- that the chief minister would be arrested.
Mr Kejriwal said he is the chief minister of Delhi as well as the AAP’s national convenor and is required to travel as a “star campaigner” of his party to Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana, where Assembly polls are to be held this month.
Also, he stated his official commitments as chief minister of Delhi for which his presence was required, particularly in view of the Diwali festival in the second week of November, and asked ED to recall its summons to him.
Mr Kejriwal’s party colleagues Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are in judicial custody in the case.
Meanwhile, addressing a rally at Singrauli in the poll-bound state of Madhya Pradesh, Mr Kejriwal said: “I don’t know whether I will be in jail or somewhere else on the day of counting, but everyone should say that Arvind Kejriwal came to Singrauli and we gave him a historic victory. Just like the people of Delhi and Punjab did charisma, the people of MP will do charisma in the coming days.”
The AAP had alleged that Mr Kejriwal would be the first to be arrested as part of the BJP’s plan to target top INDIA alliance leaders ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and the ED summons was an attempt to “finish” the party that is in power in Delhi and Punjab.
Alleging that there was a “political conspiracy” behind the Enforcement Directorate’s summons to Mr Kejriwal, the AAP also claimed that Opposition leaders were being deliberately targeted.
In a press briefing, AAP leader and Delhi minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said: “Today, the CM was asked to appear before the ED. He wrote to the ED, saying the summons does not make it clear in which capacity he is being called -- as a witness or as a suspect, in his capacity as an individual, chief minister or AAP national convenor.”
The BJP attacked Mr Kejriwal for “running away” from the ED summons in an excise policy-linked case, saying he does not want to face the truth.
“Arvind Kejriwal ran away from the ED’s summons. He does not want to face the truth… It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the Delhi liquor scam king has accepted that he was involved in liquor scam and corruption,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told a press conference here.
In the raids against the city minister, the agency searched a dozen premises, including that of the minister in the Civil Lines area of Delhi, at 7.30 am. The ED sleuths were escorted by a team of the CRPF.
The probe against Mr Anand was undertaken under the provisions of the PMLA after the local court recently took cognisance of the DRI prosecution complaint. The ED then filed a PMLA case against Mr Anand and some others, they said. Mr Anand is the minister for social welfare and SC/ST welfare in the Arvind Kejriwal government.