Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. (File photo)
It is interesting to note that though in his responses the chief minister has repeatedly called the ED summons “illegal”, “politically motivated” and “unsubstantiated in law”, he has not moved the courts yet unlike former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren
The Rouse Avenue Court issued summons to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to appear before it on February 17 on the complaint of the Enforcement Directorate for not complying with the latter’s summons issued to him in the alleged money laundering case linked to the alleged Delhi liquor scam.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Divya Malhotra said Kejriwal was legally bound to appear in person in pursuance of the summons but purportedly failed to do so and prima facie offence under Section 174 of IPC, 1980, is made out and there are sufficient grounds for proceeding under Section 204 of the Code of criminal Procedure, 1973, against the accused.
AAP sources, meanwhile, said the court’s order is being studied by its legal team and the chief minister will respond in accordance with the law. In the court, AAP sources said, the chief minister will argue that the ED summons are illegal. AAP leader Jasmine Shah said, “We have just received the order. Our legal team is studying the order. We will inform you whatever decision the legal team takes.”
Incidentally, the Delhi budget session is scheduled to commence from February 15 and will continue till February 20. Hardened by numerous court battles by now, the Delhi chief minister is a seasoned fighter. He may plead for exemption from appearing personally in light of the ongoing budget session with his lawyers appearing for him on the 17th.
It is interesting to note that though in his responses the chief minister has repeatedly called the ED summons “illegal”, “politically motivated” and “unsubstantiated in law”, he has not moved the courts yet unlike former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren.
With the ED filing a complaint in the court on Kejriwal’s non-appearance, this opens the window for Kejriwal to do so. Manish Sisodia and Vijay Nair had complied with summons and were arrested after questioning by the CBI. Sanjay Singh was raided by the ED in the morning and arrested the same evening. In fact, on April 16, 2022, Kejriwal had also responded to CBI summons and sat through over eight hours of questioning.
Addressing the media later in the evening, AAP minister Atishi said, “We respect the court’s order and in this matter, we will place our arguments why Arvind Kejriwal did not appear before the ED in the five summons that he received.”
The text of Kejriwal’s defense in the court, according to Atishi, would be the non-response of the ED to the questions raised in Kejriwal’s five letters which indicate that the ED had no basis to prove the legality of the summons. The AAP supremo’s lawyers will also argue in the court that it is a political conspiracy by drawing a parallel between BJP’s press conferences where it is told that Kejriwal will be arrested and the ED summons that follow.
“For the last two years, ED did not show any interest in questioning Kejriwal. However, the moment Lok Sabha elections draw close, they are sending summons upon summons. We will express our apprehension before the court that these summons are to arrest Arvind Kejriwal and stall his campaign,” the AAP minister added. “Operation Lotus” and “conspiracy to topple the government” will also figure in Kejriwal’s defense. The court will be told that “some people are reaching out to our MLAs and offering them money and tickets, pointing to ED summons and claiming that Kejriwal will be arrested and we will topple the government”, the minister said.
The manner in which the Enforcement Directorate is tampering with the audio of the interrogation despite a Supreme Court order and the mismatch between the spoken and recorded statements of witnesses all speak of how the ED is not carrying out any investigation but is merely being used by the Union government to “politically finish Kejriwal,” the minister elaborated.
Kejriwal has skipped ED summons for November 2, December 21 last year and January 3, January 18 and February 2 this year. Three of his key aides — Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh and Vijay Nair — are already behind bars under various sections of the draconian PMLA allegedly for laundering money linked to the Delhi Excise pollcy. They have already served jail from four to eleven months now.