Delhi HC lists Kejriwal’s plea against ED summons for hearing on May 15

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday was posted for a hearing on May 15 on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s petition challenging the summons issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with its investigation into a case against excise tax-related money laundering case.

A bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait gave the AAP leader, who was arrested by the agency on March 21 after the Supreme Court refused to grant him interim protection from coercive action, time to file a rejoinder to the ED submitted answer.

The ED counsel submitted that the plea has become futile as Kejriwal has already been arrested in the money laundering case.

“The affidavit addresses preliminary issues (of) how the case is (now) fruitless,” he said.

The agency’s lawyer told the court that the arrest was challenged by Kejriwal in a separate petition, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court. His appeal is currently pending in the Supreme Court.

The bench, which also included Justice Manoj Jain, then asked “what is left”.

The senior counsel appearing for Kejriwal said he would file a rejoinder to the ED’s stand, stressing that the “initial action” taken by the anti-money laundering agency was not in accordance with the law (PMLA).

“The senior counsel for the petitioner seeks time to file a rejoinder. Let it be done within two weeks,” the court said.

The AAP’s national convenor had approached the Supreme Court in the wake of the ED’s ninth summons asking him to appear before the court on March 21. The Supreme Court bench had on March 20 asked the ED to file its reply regarding the maintainability of the petition.

The next day, ED was asked to also respond to Kejriwal’s plea for protection from arrest, saying it was not inclined to grant him any interim relief “at this stage”. Kejriwal was arrested by the ED later that evening and is currently in judicial custody in Tihar Jail.

The federal probe agency has alleged that other accused in the case had interacted with Kejriwal for formulating the now-abolished excise policy that resulted in unnecessary benefits to them and kickbacks to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

In his petition, Kejriwal has also challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) relating to arrest, interrogation and grant of bail.

He has raised several issues, including whether a political party is covered by the anti-money laundering law. It alleged that the “arbitrary procedure” under PMLA was used to create an uneven playing field for the general elections to “distort the electoral process in favor of the ruling party at the Centre”.

Stating that the petitioner is a “vocal critic” of the ruling party and an associate of the opposition INDIA bloc, the plea alleged that the ED, which is under the control of the Union government, is “weaponized”.

(Published April 22, 2024, 10:11 am IST)