ED issues fresh summon to Arvind Kejriwal

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday issued fresh summon to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in the alleged excise policy case.

Kejriwal has been asked to appear on February 2, 2024.

The 55-year-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor had refused to depose before the ED for the fourth time, saying the “non-disclosure and non-response approach” of the agency cannot sustain the test of law, equity or justice and this “obstinacy” of the ED tantamounts to assuming the role of judge, jury and executioner.

Also Read: What is Arvind Kejriwal’s connection to the Delhi excise policy case?

Kejriwal has so far skipped four previous summons issued by the ED on January 18, January 3, November 2 and on December 22, calling them “illegal and politically motivated”.

The ED wants to record Kejriwal’s statement in the case on issues like formulation of policy, meetings held before it was finalised, and allegations of bribery.

While skipping the fourth summons issued by the ED, Kejriwal termed it “illegal”, saying he was ready to cooperate but the agency’s intention was to arrest him and stop him from election campaigning.

“All four notices sent to me (by the ED) are illegal and invalid in the eyes of the law. Whenever such general, non-specific notices were sent by the ED in the past, they were quashed and declared invalid by courts. These notices are being sent as part of a political conspiracy,” Kejriwal said after skipping the fourth notice.

The case is based on a First Information Report (FIR) alleging multiple irregularities in the formation and implementation of the Delhi excise policy (2021-22) by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The policy was withdrawn after allegations of corruption.

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 has 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.

On Kejriwal’s role, one of the six charge sheets filed in January 2023 alleges that Kejriwal told businessman Sameer Mahendru that former AAP communications in-charge Vijay Nair “is his boy” and that he should trust him.

The excise policy was aimed to revitalise the city’s flagging liquor business and replace a sales-volume-based regime with a license fee for traders. It promised swankier stores and a better buying experience. The policy introduced discounts and offers on the purchase of liquor for the first time in Delhi.

Lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena’s move to order a probe into alleged irregularities in the regime prompted the scrapping of the policy. The 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 already under 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 and on October 5, the ED arrested Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha member.

(With agency inputs)

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William Murphy

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