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Delhi high court sends notice on Kejriwal’s plea against his arrest by CBI | Latest News Delhi

Delhi high court sends notice on Kejriwal’s plea against his arrest by CBI | Latest News Delhi

The Delhi high court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest by the probe agency in the Delhi excise policy case.

Arvind Kejriwal being taken to a court on Saturday. (PTI)

A bench of justice Neena Bansal Krishna directed the central probe agency to file its response within seven days and fixed July 17 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

“Issue notice. Notice on behalf of the CBI is accepted. Let detailed reply by filed within seven days. Rejoinder, if any, be filed within two days. List for further hearing on July 17,” the court said in its order.

On Monday, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener had approached the high court asserting that his arrest was “illegal” since it was in contravention of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar and section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which mandates the investigating officer to issue notice to the person accused of committing an offence before making an arrest without warrant. In the ruling, the apex court had formulated guidelines to prevent unnecessary arrests and to ensure that the same are made only when mandatory.

Besides challenging his arrest, the Delhi CM has also sought for setting aside Delhi court’s June 26 and June 29 orders. On June 26, the city court had remanded Kejriwal to three days CBI custody saying that the remand was warranted as the probe agency had taken court’s permission before examining Kejriwal and based upon the interrogation report, found the necessity to arrest. While on June 29 order, the city court had remanded the AAP chief to 14 days judicial custody till July 12.

In the remand note, CBI had alleged that Kejriwal’s arrest was necessitated as he had remained “evasive, non-cooperative” and failed to give satisfactory replies to the questions raised to him regarding his role in the matter of allegedly demanding kickback worth 100 crore, the acceptance and delivery of the same to AAP through his close associate Vijay Nair and utilisation of the ill-gotten money for the party’s Goa elections campaign.

Kejriwal has denied all charges, and his plea before the high court stated that mere non-cooperation is not a ground to statutorily available to arrest a person.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the Delhi chief minister, represented by senior advocate AM Singhvi, urged the court to issue notice on the plea, asserting that there was no need or necessity to arrest his client. Singhvi emphasised that the probe agency had questioned the CM for nine hours in April 2023 and arrested him based on an FIR registered in 2022. “From April till now, nothing is done and thus on the FIR registered in 2022, he (Kejriwal) is arrested,” Singhvi told the court.

The senior lawyer also contended that there was “no basis or reason” to arrest Kejriwal since he was already in judicial custody and could neither be a flight risk nor tamper with evidence. “The arrest memo must reflect some reason, some basis. Basis could be he is terrorist, flight risk- that cannot even arise in his case as he is already under arrest in judicial custody. The arrest memo is quite remarkable. It’s all of one paragraph and is of four lines,” Singhvi added.

Special public prosecutor (SPP) DP Singh, who attended the hearing virtually, accepted notice for the CBI.

The probe agency had arrested the CM in the Rouse Avenue Court on June 26 after a sequence of dramatic developments in court. The developments came after a dramatic start to the day when, at 10.30am, the federal agency briefly questioned Kejriwal in court premises before arresting him. On June 29, a Delhi court had sent the CM to 14 days judicial custody till July 12.

In the remand note, the agency alleged that Kejriwal is “one of the main conspirators of the criminal conspiracy” and said that Vijay Nair, a former party functionary, was contacting various liquor manufacturers and traders and demanding undue gratification since March 2021.

Kejriwal, the agency claimed, asked YSRCP’s Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, who is now an MP, to provide “monetary funding to the AAP” while assuring support in the liquor business in the national capital. CBI said it had corroboration of these moves from “contemporaneous documentary material”.

According to the agency, Reddy, YSRCP’s Ongole MP, met Kejriwal on March 16, 2021, requesting support in Delhi’s liquor business. Kejriwal allegedly assured support and asked Reddy to contact Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha, who was reportedly working with Kejriwal’s team. The CBI claimed that Kejriwal also asked Reddy to provide monetary funding to the AAP, a fact they say is corroborated by “contemporaneous documentary material.”

K Kavitha allegedly told Reddy that 100 crore must be arranged for the AAP as “upfront money” by March 2021, the agency claimed, while also contending the L1 (wholesale) license given to Indospirits, a company in which K Kavitha and Reddy’s son Raghav Magunta had stakes, violated rules, and was granted despite pending complaints of cartelisation.

In the past, Kejriwal’s lawyers have questioned the credibility of the federal agencies relying on witnesses who were granted pardons and turned approvers, especially referring to Magunta Reddy.

The CBI has filed four charge sheets in the case against 17 accused persons, including Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Kavitha. Kejriwal has not been named in any of the indictments yet. They claim that out of 100 crore received by AAP as kickbacks, 44.45 crore was transferred to Goa during June 2021 to January 2022 through “hawala channels” for election campaign purposes.

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