Excise policy case: Delhi HC halts Arvind Kejriwal’s release after ED’s request | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Excise policy case: Delhi HC halts Arvind Kejriwal’s release after ED’s request

Jun 21, 2024 12:45 PM IST

A vacation bench of justices Sudhir Kumar Jain and Ravinder Dudeja said that the order granting bail to the CM would not be given effect till the court heard the probe agency’s plea challenging the bail later in the day

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday halted the release of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in the money laundering case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a day after he was granted regular bail by a trial court nearly three months after he was arrested in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy case.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has been in custody since March 21 following his arrest by ED (File Photo)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has been in custody since March 21 following his arrest by ED (File Photo)

The decision came after the ED moved the high court, challenging the trial court’s bail order. A vacation bench of justices Sudhir Kumar Jain and Ravinder Dudeja said that the order granting bail to the CM would not be given effect till the court heard the probe agency’s plea challenging the bail later in the day.

“The bail order will not be given effect. We have not passed the final order. You may argue for as much as you can. Let the files come. It (files) will be here in 10-15 minutes,” the court told additional solicitor general (ASG) SV Raju, appearing for the ED, and senior advocates Vikram Chaudhari and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Kejriwal. 

During a brief hearing on Friday morning, ASG Raju urged the court to stay the execution of the order granting bail asserting that the probe agency was not given a clear opportunity to oppose.

He pointed out that though the trial court passed the order at 8:00 pm on Thursday, the same has not been uploaded yet. “We have not been given an opportunity to oppose the bail. I was told to finish the arguments. I was not allowed. My argument was curtailed. In my reply, I was not allowed to argue fully & I was not given the opportunity to file a written submission,” the ASG said.

He added that the trial court had also turned down ED’s request to stay the bail order. “Order cannot stand even for a day when a public prosecutor has not been given the opportunity to argue fully.” 

Advocates Chaudhari and Singhvi for Kejriwal said that there were at least 10 Supreme Court judgements pointing out that cancellation of bail is different from grant of bail. 

Considering the submissions, the court clarified that the bail order would not be given till it heard the matter and posted the plea for hearing later in the day.

The ED moved the Delhi high court on Friday, less than 24 hours after the Delhi court granted bail to Kejriwal. On Thursday, the city court while granting bail to the CM had rejected ED’s request to delay the acceptance of the bail bonds by 48 hours to allow the agency time to challenge the order in a higher court, clarifying that Kejriwal’s counsel can furnish bail bonds on Friday before the concerned judge. “There is no stay on the order of granting bail,” the judge said.

Kejriwal approached the trial court two days before his interim bail ended. He was arrested on March 21 for alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy for 2021-22 and was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on May 10 to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections. He surrendered on June 2 after the Supreme Court declined to extend the interim bail.

During the bail hearing, senior advocate Chaudhari argued that ED had failed to prove a money trail linked to Kejriwal or substantiate claims of AAP leaders receiving kickbacks through the policy. He emphasised that the case was based on statements from “tainted co-accused” who had been granted bail or pardon, highlighting contradictions and a lack of material corroboration in these statements.

He further pointed out that Kejriwal was not made an accused in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case, while also probing the excise policy case separately, and was called as a witness instead. They asserted that ED lacked evidence to prove AAP received Rs.45 crore as kickbacks and that Kejriwal had connections with individuals who allegedly managed the funds. Chaudhari further contended that the apex court permitted Kejriwal to apply for regular bail while reserving judgment on his plea on May 17.

Opposing the bail, ASG Raju argued that there was undeniable evidence of money laundering. He stated that ED had concrete proof of Kejriwal’s involvement, including telephone call records and call data records (CDR) showing co-accused Chanpreet Singh’s receipt of 45 crore as kickbacks.

Citing the rigours of Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the ASG said it was Kejriwal’s responsibility to demonstrate that he was not guilty of a PMLA offence, regardless of his constitutional post.

The case against Kejriwal stems from allegations of irregularities in Delhi’s excise policy, which the CBI began probing following a recommendation by Delhi’s LG in July 2022.

Kejriwal was the third AAP leader arrested in this connection. Sisodia has been in jail since February 2023, and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh was granted bail by the top court in April this year after six months of custody.

The ED, in its submissions before all courts, has accused the CM of being the “kingpin” and “key conspirator” of the alleged corruption in the 2021-22 Delhi excise policy

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