The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has once again summoned Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in relation to the ongoing investigation into the Delhi liquor scam. The investigative agency has directed Mr. Kejriwal to appear for questioning on January 18. This marks the fourth summons extended to the Chief Minister by the ED in connection with the probe into the alleged irregularities surrounding the liquor industry in Delhi.
In a series of developments, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been summoned for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on three previous occasions—January 3, November 2, and December 21. Regrettably, Mr. Kejriwal did not comply with the investigative agency’s directives on all three instances.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Cites Prior Commitments to Enforcement Directorate, Requests Written Queries
On January 3, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal conveyed to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that his engagement with preparations for the Rajya Sabha elections and Republic Day ceremonies demanded his attention. During this communication, he requested the ED to submit any inquiries in writing for his response.
In an earlier incident on November 2, Mr. Kejriwal had denounced the ED’s summons, labeling them as illegal and politically motivated. Furthermore, upon receiving the summons on December 21, the Chief Minister embarked on a 10-day Vipassana retreat in Hoshiarpur, Punjab. These responses from Mr. Kejriwal reflect his stance on the perceived nature of the summonses and his chosen approach to address them.
AAP Calls Notice Illegal, Congress Alleges Pressure on Opposition, BJP Criticizes Kejriwal’s Non-Appearance
On January 3, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) asserted that while they are prepared to cooperate with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe, they deem the ED notice as illegal. According to the AAP, the ED’s intentions appear to be aimed at arresting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, potentially hindering his participation in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Congress leader Udit Raj expressed concerns by citing instances of ED raids on individuals associated with Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren. Raj also highlighted a notice sent to former Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel before elections, emphasizing false allegations. According to Raj, the ED, instead of fulfilling its investigative role, is exerting pressure on opposition leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal, who is a key figure in the opposition coalition.
Contrarily, BJP Spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla criticized Kejriwal’s non-appearance before the ED, suggesting that it indicates an attempt to conceal information. Poonawalla characterized Kejriwal’s actions as akin to those of individuals with something to hide, likening the situation to individuals going into hiding like criminals. The diverse political responses underscore the contentious nature of the ongoing investigations and their potential implications on the political landscape.
Enforcement Directorate’s Arrest Powers Prompt Potential Legal Action from CM Kejriwal
In light of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s repeated non-compliance with Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons, legal experts suggest that the ED may escalate its response by issuing bailable warrants. Should Kejriwal continue to abstain, legal provisions under Section 45 allow the issuance of non-bailable warrants.
Experts in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) indicate that the ED has the discretion to grant additional time if a compelling reason for non-appearance is provided. However, persistent defiance of notices under the PMLA Act may result in arrest.
Should Kejriwal persist in not appearing, the investigating officer retains the option to visit his residence for questioning. If the responses prove unsatisfactory or if substantial evidence exists, authorities may proceed with an arrest.
Simultaneously, in response to an issued warrant, Kejriwal can approach the court, pledging cooperation with the investigation in the presence of legal representation. In such a scenario, the court may direct the ED to refrain from arresting him, depending on the assurances provided during the legal proceedings.
Chief Minister Kejriwal Subjected to Extensive Questioning by CBI in Liquor Policy Case
In April of this year, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal underwent a comprehensive interrogation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at his office, spanning approximately 9.5 hours in connection with the liquor policy case. Throughout the session, Kejriwal faced around 56 questions, commencing his appearance at the agency’s office at 11:10 am and concluding the session at 8:30 pm.
Reflecting on the interrogation, Kejriwal stated, “I responded to all the questions posed by the CBI. We have nothing to conceal. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is unwaveringly committed to honesty. We would rather face adversity and stand firm in our integrity. Despite efforts to undermine AAP, the people of the country stand in solidarity with us.” Kejriwal’s remarks emphasize the party’s dedication to transparency and their resilience in the face of challenges.