Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Fresh ED summons to Arvind Kejriwal for questioning in Delhi excise policy case


New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has issued a fresh summons to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for questioning on December 21 in the excise policy-linked money laundering case, officials said.

He was first called by the federal agency to appear on November 2, but he did not depose alleging that the notice was “vague, motivated and unsustainable in law”.

The summonses to Kejriwal, also the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), pertain to questioning in the alleged Delhi excise policy case and for recording his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the officials said.

He has to appear at the ED headquarters here on December 21, they said.

The development comes days after Delhi government officials said Kejriwal will leave for a 10-day Vipassana meditation course at an undisclosed location from December 19.

AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are among those arrested in this case by the ED and the agency is expected to file a supplementary charge sheet in the case soon.

After the first summons, the AAP had alleged that Kejriwal would be arrested as part of the BJP’s plan to target top INDIA bloc leaders ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and the ED notice was an attempt to finish the party that is in power in Delhi and Punjab.

The ED has mentioned Kejriwal’s name multiple times in its charge sheets filed in the case and said the accused were in touch with him regarding the preparation of the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

In one instance, the agency claimed in its charge sheet that it had recorded the statement of Butchibabu, an accountant allegedly linked to BRS leader K Kavitha, in which he said that “there was a political understanding between K Kavitha and chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and the deputy chief minister (Sisodia).

“In that process, K Kavitha also met Vijay Nair (AAP communications in-charge arrested in the case) on March 19-20, 2021.” In another instance involving arrested accused Dinesh Arora, the ED said he told it that he met Kejriwal once at his residence.

Similarly, the ED charge sheet said, YSRCP MP Magunta Sriniavasulu Reddy also held meetings with Kejriwal wherein Arvind Kejriwal welcomed his entry into the Delhi liquor business.

It had said that Buchibabu and another accused Arun Pillai have revealed that they and Vijay Nair were working with the “support and sanction” of Arvind Kejriwal and AAP leader and the then Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia for all excise policy-related activities- including formulation as well as implementation.

It had also alleged that Vijay Nair “arranged a video call through facetime (a video calling facility on iPhone) on his phone for another arrested accused Sameer (Mahandru) and Sh Arvind Kejriwal, where Sh Arvind said to Sh Sameer that, Vijay is his boy and that Sh Sameer should trust him and carry on with him.” Kejriwal had then rubbished the contents of the ED complaint saying it has “filed 5,000 charge sheets under the tenure of the current government.” “How many people have been sentenced? All the cases filed by ED are fake and they are used to topple governments or form them. ED does not file cases to eradicate corruption. They do it to buy MLAs, topple governments,” Kejriwal had said.

It is alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge repeatedly refuted by the AAP.

The policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the PMLA.


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