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Excise ‘scam’: Supreme Court agrees to consider Kejriwal’s request for urgent hearing of petition against Delhi HC order upholding his arrest


New Delhi, Apr 10: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's request for urgent hearing of his petition challenging a Delhi High Court verdict that dismissed his plea against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in a money-laundering case linked to the excise policy scam.

Senior counsel AM Singhvi mentioned Kejriwal's petition before a Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud seeking urgent hearing. The high court's order was based on certain material that was suppressed from the petitioner, Singhvi submitted.

“Send an email. I will look into it,” the CJI told Singhvi. The CJI was expected to take a call on urgent listing of Kejriwal's petition by this afternoon.

A day after the Delhi High Court dismissed his petition against his arrest by the ED, Kejriwal on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the high court's verdict.

Spelling further trouble for beleaguered Delhi Chief Minister, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma of the Delhi High Court had on Tuesday dismissed his petition challenging his arrest by the ED, saying there was no violation of law or the Supreme Court's verdicts.

Justice Sharma held that Kejriwal's arrest by the ED and his subsequent remand in Enforcement Directorate's custody and later in judicial custody can't be held to be illegal as the probe agency was in possession of “enough material” that led to his arrest, and the trial court remanded him in the custody of the agency by a well-reasoned order.

“Material collected by the ED reveals that Kejriwal conspired and was involved in formulation of the excise policy and used the proceeds of the . He is also allegedly involved in his personal capacity in formulation of the policy and demanding kickbacks in the capacity of convenor of AAP,” the HC said.

The ED had arrested Kejriwal on March 21 after the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from coercive action by the probe agency in the money laundering case. On April 1, a Delhi Special Court sent Kejriwal to 14-day judicial custody till April 15 on the expiry of his ED custody.

The ED alleged that Kejriwal was the kingpin and the key conspirator of the excise scam and there were reasons to believe on the basis of material in its possession that the AAP leader was guilty of the offence of money laundering.

The high court said there was evidence to show that the proceeds of crime were used for political campaigning in the 2022 Goa legislative assembly elections.

Rejecting his allegation of political vendetta on the eve of , Justice Sharma said “Courts are concerned with constitutional morality and not political morality.” The court had to apply the law as it existed, she added.

“This Court is of the opinion that the accused has been arrested and his arrest and remand has to be examined as per law and not as per timing of elections… Political considerations cannot be brought before the court as they are not relevant…The Court must remain vigilant that it is not influenced by any extraneous factors,” the HC said.

It said Kejriwal's challenge against his arrest was not sustainable in the absence of any mala fide on part of ED.

“In the case at hand, it is important to clarify that the matter before this court is not a conflict between the central government and petitioner Kejriwal. Instead, it is a case between Kejriwal and the Directorate of Enforcement,” it said.

The HC also dismissed Kejriwal's argument that the ED could have visited his residence to record his statement, the Bench said the investigation can't be conducted at the convenience of the accused. It said there can't be two categories of laws – one for the common citizens and the other for a chief minister or any person in power.

The court also relied on the statements of witnesses and approvers to uphold his arrest and the remand to be “legal”.

Justice Sharma took exception to Kejriwal's submissions that cast doubt on approvers' statements, saying the statements were recorded by courts as per laws that have existed much before the parties and even the judge in the cases were born and have been upheld by the top court.

“To cast doubt on the manner of recording statement of approver would amount to casting aspersions on the Court and judge,” the HC said.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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