ANI Photo | “Kejriwal’s actions indicate he’s kingpin”: BJP’s Shehzad Poonawalla rips into Delhi CM as he skips ninth ED summons in liquor case

After the Delhi High Court refused to grant interim protection from arrest by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) in connection with the liquor policy case, BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla on Thursday came out all guns blazing at the AAP convenor saying dodging multiple summones by the central agency only goes to show that he is the ‘kingpin’ in the case.
Dealing a blow to the AAP supremo earlier in the day, the Delhi HC refused protection from coercive action in the liquor policy case, saying that at this stage, it was not inclined to grant him interim relief.
The court pronounced the ruling during a hearing on a plea by Kejriwal, seeking protection from coercive action in the excise policy case.
Responding to the legal setback, the BJP spokesman said, “The Delhi HC has ruled against granting any relief to Arvind Kejriwal. In a sense, all your victimhood cards, all the excuses that you’ve been making, that the summonses are illegal and this entire liquor scam does not exist, have been put aside. The court even asked Kejriwal, ‘Why don’t you present yourself before the agencies? Why are you running away?’ It means Kejriwal-ji, through his actions, is indicating that he has something to hide in the liquor scam and that he, himself, is the kingpin.”
In a dramatic turn of events, barely hours after the high court refused to grant the AAP chief protection from coercive action in connection with the excise policy case, a team from the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) arrived at his residence for questioning.
The bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Manoj Jain passed an interim order on Kejriwal’s petition, seeking stay on arrest, with the main matter listed for July 22.
During the hearing, senior advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, submitted that the summons issued under Section 50 do not even reveal whether the person summoned is a witness, suspect or accused.
Singhvi referred to Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivkumar’s case order to argue for no-coercive action.
He said his client has apprehension that he would be arrested “for political purposes”.
“What prevented you from arresting him, and why are you issuing summonses back-to-back?” the court asked ED during arguments.
Additional Solicitor General SV Raju replied that the agency never said that they are going to arrest. “The power is there. You come to join the investigation, we may or may not arrest you.”
Raju opposed the plea on maintainability grounds and submitted that the petition is seeking to quash and set aside all proceedings qua the petitioner in the capacity of his being national convener of a political party.
“But here, AAP has not been made an accused yet and the fact that he’s challenged means that his figment of imagination can’t lead to a grant of relief. A person or entity that has not been made an accused can’t seek to strike down a provision,” Raju said.
On Wednesday, during the hearing in the related matter before the Delhi High Court, Kejriwal’s lawyers stated that they have apprehension that the ED will arrest him and that he is ready to appear if he is given protection.
The Delhi High Court had sought a response of the ED on a plea filed by Kejriwal challenging the summons issued to him in connection with the Delhi excise policy case.
During the hearing, the bench asked the Kejriwal lawyers, Why don’t you appear before the Enforcement Directorate? In the reply, Singhvi said that AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh were also arrested by the agency. “We have an apprehension that ED will arrest him; he is ready to appear if he is given protection.”
ED on Sunday issued two fresh summonses to Kejriwal in connection with two separate cases– the liquor policy case and another one linked to the Delhi Jal Board.
The latest summons in the liquor case was the ninth served on the Delhi chief minister in connection with the probe related to irregularities in the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 case. He was asked to appear before the ED for questioning in the liquor policy case on March 21.
The fresh summons to the Delhi CM followed the eighth, which he had skipped on March 4.
Last week, the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Rouse Avenue Court granted bail to Kejriwal on two complaints filed by ED for non-compliance with summons issued by the agency. During the hearing, Kejriwal appeared physically before the court.
According to the ED, the agency wants to record Kejriwal’s statement in the case on issues like the formulation of policy, meetings held before it was finalized, and allegations of bribery.
In its sixth charge sheet filed in the case on December 2, 2023, naming AAP leader Sanjay Singh and his aide Sarvesh Mishra, the ED claimed that the AAP used kickbacks worth Rs 45 crore generated via the policy as part of its assembly elections campaign in Goa in 2022.
The now-scrapped excise policy was aimed “at revitalizing the city’s flagging liquor business” and replacing a sales-volume-based regime with a licence fee for traders.
Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena had ordered a probe into alleged irregularities in the policy. AAP has accused Saxena’s predecessor, Anil Baijal, of sabotaging the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.
Two senior AAP leaders, Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh, are in judicial custody in the case. Sisodia, who was the then Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, was arrested by the CBI on February 26 following several rounds of questioning. On October 5, ED arrested Sanjay Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha member

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