Liquor Policy: Delhi Court Extends Arvind Kejriwal's Judicial Custody Till July 03, Bail Hearing To Continue Tomorrow

Update: 2024-06-19 10:12 GMT
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A Delhi Court on Wednesday extended till July 03 the judicial custody of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the money laundering case connected to the alleged liquor policy scam.Vacation Judge Niyay Bindu of Rouse Avenue Courts extended Kejriwal's judicial remand after he was produced from the Tihar Jail through virtual mode on the expiry of his judicial custody.The court also heard...

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A Delhi Court on Wednesday extended till July 03 the judicial custody of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the money laundering case connected to the alleged liquor policy scam.

Vacation Judge Niyay Bindu of Rouse Avenue Courts extended Kejriwal's judicial remand after he was produced from the Tihar Jail through virtual mode on the expiry of his judicial custody.

The court also heard Kejriwal's regular bail plea. While Kejriwal's counsel completed the submissions, ED's submissions were completed in part. The matter will now be heard tomorrow for completion of arguments and rejoinder.

Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21. In May, he was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court till June 01 in view of general elections. He surrendered a day thereafter.

Appearing for Kejriwal, Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhari drew the court's attention to two orders passed by the Supreme Court - one granting him interim bail and the other reserving judgment on his plea against the arrest. He told the court that the Apex Court permitted Kejriwal to apply for regular bail while reserving judgment on his plea.

While recapitulating the facts of the case, Chaudhari highlighted that Kejriwal had not been made an accused in the scheduled offence to date. He further submitted that the Chief Minister was not seeking any special status, although since he was a constitutional functionary, the chair ought to be respected.

The Senior Counsel questioned the credibility of the material put forth by ED, pointing towards statements of witnesses who were granted pardons and turned approvers in the case. In particular, he referred to the statements given by Magunta Reddy, highlighting that he is a member of the now-ruling NDA alliance.

"But will your lordships be so swayed at the time of bail that your lordships will blindly rely on their material? If this is the level of statements against a constitutional functionary… your lordships may go back to the timing (of arrest)", Chaudhari said.

He questioned the timing of Kejriwal's arrest by ED, submitting that he was arrested soon after the general elections were announced. The senior counsel averred that ED's job was to conduct a probe under the PMLA, and not the CBI case.

"The issue is as to the quality of evidence. If the quality is only statements, then it is a circumstantial evidence. Circumstances have to be so intrinsically linked to lead to the guilt. These statements by tainted persons discredits the case of prosecution,” he said.

Furthermore, Chaudhari argued that the triple test for bail stood satisfied in Kejriwal's case. He also pressed medical grounds for bail.

Additional Solicitor General SV Raju representing ED, on the other hand, began by contending that the Supreme Court granted interim bail to Kejriwal by exercising extraordinary powers solely for the purposes of general elections, and not on merits.

He further submitted that there was no doubt as to the commission of a money laundering offence since cognizance had been taken by the concerned court and the cognizance order had not been challenged.

The ASG referred to the restraints imposed by Section 45 PMLA on the grant of bail and informed that several accused in the Delhi Liquor Policy case, including former Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, had been denied bail by applying the provision.

Insofar as Kejriwal's contention that he has not been arrested in the CBI case yet, the ASG submitted that the same was not necessary in view of a judgment by the Supreme Court. He further averred that as per the CBI, Kejriwal demanded a bribe of Rs.100 crores.

Thereafter, the ASG argued that it was for Kejriwal to show that he was not guilty of a PMLA offence, and in that regard, the fact that he holds a constitutional post is not relevant. On the issue of timing of arrest, it was claimed that arrest is the prerogative of the Investigating Officer and timing is irrelevant if a PMLA offence is made out.

So far as suspicions cast on witness statements, the ASG's submission was that the credibility of the same ought to be examined at the stage of trial. "At the stage of bail, you cannot conduct a mini trial", he said. 

It was also submitted that the law itself permits the offering of inducements to the accused, to turn them into approvers, where it is difficult to obtain evidence.

ASG Raju further said that Kejriwal had been roped in the case not only in his individual capacity but also vicariously, by virtue of Section 70 of PMLA.

He said that there is evidence that money was demanded by Kejriwal which can be proved not only by statements recorded by ED officers but also by the magistrate.

AAP is an association of individuals under Representation of Peoples Act. If an offence is committed by company, then every person in charge of the affairs is deemed to be guilty. If AAP takes bribe of hundred of crores, every person in charge of the party will be responsible as per section 70 of PMLA. AAP is the company for purpose of section 70. If AAP commits a crime, then every person in charge of the party will be deemed to be guilty,” he said.

ASG added: “Demand is established. The money has gone to Goa. It has gone to hawala dealers. We have recorded statements. Larger chunk of amount was paid in cash is also established.”

While deferring the hearing to tomorrow, the court said that it would decide Kejriwal's application to allow his wife to participate through VC in his examination by the medical board, along with his regular bail plea. 

Recently, Kejriwal's plea seeking interim bail for seven days on medical grounds was dismissed by the court. It was said that the extensive campaigning done by him during elections showed that he was not suffering from any serious or life-threatening ailment so as to entitle him to bail under PMLA.

The court also said that Diabetes or even type-2 Diabetes cannot be said to be so serious an ailment so as to entitle Kejriwal to the relief claimed.

A few days ago, the ED filed a supplementary chargesheet in the money laundering case naming Kejriwal as well as the Aam Aadmi Party as the accused. The court reserved the order on cognizance of the seventh supplementary chargesheet filed by the probe agency.

On April 10, the Delhi High Court dismissed Kejriwal's plea challenging his arrest, observing that ED was able to place enough material, statements of approvers and AAP's own candidate stating that Kejriwal was given money for Goa elections.

AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are also accused in the case. While Sisodia continues to remain in jail, Singh has been granted bail by the Supreme Court pursuant to a concession given by the ED.

ED has alleged that Arvind Kejriwal is the "kingpin" of the Delhi excise scam and is directly involved in the use of proceeds of crime accounting for over Rs. 100 crores. It is ED's case that the excise policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12 per cent to certain private companies, although such a stipulation was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings of the Group of Ministers (GoM).

The Central agency has also claimed that there was a conspiracy coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals along with South Group to give extraordinary profit margins to wholesalers. Nair was acting on behalf of Kejriwal and Sisodia, according to the agency.

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