Delhi High Court Reserves Verdict on Arvind Kejriwal's Arrest: A Look At The Arguments

Senior Advocate Manu Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, questioned the urgency behind Kejriwal's arrest.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Source: AAP)</p></div>
(Source: AAP)

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on the case challenging the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam.

Senior Advocate Manu Singhvi represented Kejriwal, while ASG SV Raju represented the Enforcement Directorate.

On Behalf Of Kejriwal

Singhvi argued that maintaining a level playing field is essential for ensuring free and fair elections and upholding the principles of democracy. He raised concerns about the timing of Kejriwal's arrest, suggesting that it could be an attempt to disrupt a political party's activities before elections commence.

Singhvi also questioned the urgency behind Kejriwal's arrest, highlighting that the alleged scam took place in early 2022, but the arrest occurred much later. He emphasised the lack of substantial evidence supporting the arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Singhvi also highlighted that Kejriwal poses no flight risk and has cooperated with authorities during the year-long investigation.

He also outlined a pattern where individuals initially made statements that did not implicate Kejriwal but later began implicating him. He cited instances where individuals who made statements against Kejriwal later joined the ruling party's alliance, suggesting potential political motivations behind the allegations.

On Behalf Of ED

ASG SV Raju, representing the ED, initiated his argument by drawing attention to the physical proximity between Vijay Nair's purported workplace and Kejriwal's office. 

Nair allegedly stationed himself at Kailash Gahlot's office, which was conveniently located adjacent to the chief minister's residence. This proximity raised suspicions of potential collusion or involvement between Kejriwal and the individuals implicated in the case.

Nair was the communication in-charge of AAP and as per ED, he is part of the conspiracy.

Raju proceeded to outline the allegations surrounding kickbacks within the liquor policy scandal. Individuals who refused to comply with these kickback demands were allegedly coerced into relinquishing their licences, he said. 

The ASG highlighted the case of IndoSpirits, a blacklisted entity that somehow managed to obtain a wholesale licence. Despite facing accusations of cartelisation and irregularities in the licencing process, IndoSpirits reportedly received preferential treatment.

The ASG also mentioned a significant increase in wholesaler profit, which surged from 5-12%. He argued that this substantial rise in profit was ostensibly intended to accommodate kickbacks and bribes, signalling pervasive corruption within the licencing framework.

AAP Considered A Company Under PMLA: ASG

The ASG emphasised that AAP qualifies as a company, according to the PMLA. As the national convenor of the AAP, Kejriwal held a position of significant authority within the party. This role made him responsible for overseeing and managing various aspects of AAP's affairs, including its financial transactions.

Therefore, Kejriwal's authority as the national convenor implicated him in the party's activities, including those related to alleged kickbacks and money laundering.

More than one person can be accountable for a company's actions, and if evidence emerges, others may be implicated, Raju submitted.

On the allegation of witnesses being subjected to inducement, the ASG submitted that the scheme of approvership protects witnesses, ensuring evidence for prosecution. The Supreme Court's judgement supports that these actions aren't inducements.

Singhvi’s Concluding Submissions

Singhvi highlighted that, as of January this year, the ED stated that Kejriwal was not considered an accused. He argued that just because the co-accused in the case have not been given bail, it does not mean that Kejriwal, too, cannot be released.

Singhvi cited the Manish Sisodia judgment for clarity on this matter. Regarding the alleged Rs 100 crore kickbacks, Singhvi said that the court termed it a matter of debate.

Singhvi questioned the jurisdiction of the PMLA in cases where there are no proceeds of crime.

He illustrated his argument with an example: If a bribe-giver is caught in the act but there are no proceeds of crime involved, the case would fall under other laws such as the Prevention of Corruption Act or the Income Tax Act, not under money laundering.

Arvind Kejriwal: Delhi High Court Reserves Order In Plea Against Arrest By ED