Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal arrested by ED

The move comes after an ED team questioned the chief minister at his residence , recording his statement under Section 50 of the PMLA, sources told IANS on Thursday.

In a major development ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Delhi excise policy ‘scam’ case on Thursday, March 21.

The move comes after an ED team questioned the chief minister at his residence, recording his statement under Section 50 of the PMLA, sources told IANS on Thursday.

This also comes 6 days after Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC K Kavitha was arrested by the central agency in connection to the same case on March 15.

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The ED team, including a Joint Director, reached the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence on Thursday evening, hours after the Delhi High Court denied him protection against “coercive action” by the agency, which has issued multiple summons to him.

Kejriwal moves SC

Hours after the high court denied him relief, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday evening rushed to the Supreme Court seeking protection from any coercive action by the Enforcement Directorate in an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

Sources said the AAP national convenor approached the top court seeking an urgent hearing of his petition after a high court division bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait refused to grant him interim protection.

The high court has listed Kejriwal’s application seeking protection from coercive action for further consideration on April 22, when his main petition challenging the Enforcement Directorate’s summons has been fixed for hearing.

Tension at Kejriwal’s residence

A large contingent of Delhi Police personnel, along with the RAF, was deployed outside the Chief Minister’s residence, as there was apprehension that AAP workers may try to reach there to stage a protest.

“We have also installed barricades near the chief minister’s residence to maintain law and order in the area,” said a senior police officer.

Senior officers, including Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) M.K. Meena and officers of ACP rank, are present at the spot.

Delhi Ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj, along with other AAP leaders, reached the CM’s residence but claimed that they were stopped from entering the house.

AAP blames BJP

Atishi said that searches are going on at Kejriwal’s house, adding that the ED has come with the intention to arrest the Chief Minister.

“It’s evident how the ED, under the influence of the BJP, demonstrates disregard for the judiciary. Had they respected the courts, they wouldn’t have conducted a raid at Arvind Kejriwal’s residence today. This situation reeks of political scheming, as their main intention appears to be to arrest Arvind Kejriwal,” she said.

HC denies relief

The ED action came after Kejriwal obtained no relief from the high court.

A division bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain, after hearing the arguments from both sides, declined to pass any order granting interim relief on Kejriwal’s plea.

The bench on Wednesday asked CM Kejriwal as to why he doesn’t appear before the probe agency in response to the summons.

On Thursday, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Arvind Kejriwal, contended that the ED’s summons lacked clarity regarding the capacity in which Kejriwal was called to appear, accusing the agency of attempting to create an uneven playing field ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

In response, ASG S.V. Raju, along with special counsel Zoheb Hossain, appearing for the ED, opposed granting interim relief (to Arvind Kejriwal), saying that the law must be applied uniformly to all individuals, regardless of their position.

He clarified that Kejriwal was summoned in his personal capacity, and not as the chief minister or the Aam Aadmi Party chief, as he stressed the necessity for the Delhi CM’s interrogation based on the available evidence.

ED summons

The ED had issued its first summons to Kejriwal in October last year, the second in December, and the third summon to appear before it for questioning on January 3. It had summoned him for the fourth time on January 13, asking him to appear before it on January 18, before issuing its fifth summons to Kejriwal, telling him to appear before the agency on February 2.

On February 19, Kejriwal skipped the ED’s sixth summons in connection with the excise policy case. After Kejriwal skipped the seventh summons issued on February 22, the agency issued the eighth summons asking him to appear before it on March 4. The ninth summons was scheduled for March 21.

The ED has also issued summons to CM Kejriwal in the Delhi Jal Board case.

(With excerpts from agencies)

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