ED arrests Kejriwal after two-hour grilling; security tightened at agency office

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was taken into custody on Thursday evening by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the liquor policy case after being questioned at his official residence for over two hours, sources said.

Searches were also conducted at his residence by the ED team, which included a Joint Director.

“He will be taken to the ED office shortly after a medical test,” a source said.

The Delhi Chief Minister’s arrest came hours after the Delhi High Court rejected his plea seeking protection from ‘coercive action’ by the agency, which has served repeated summons to him.

In another setback to Kejriwal, the Supreme Court, which his team had moved against the Delhi High Court order, refused to hold an urgent hearing on Thursday night.

The matter is likely to be mentioned before the apex court for an urgent hearing on Friday morning.

Kejriwal is the biggest name to be arrested in the alleged scam so far after BRS lawmaker K. Kavitha, former Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, and AAP RS member Sanjay Singh, among others.

A large contingent of Delhi Police personnel, along with the RAF, was deployed outside the Chief Minister’s residence on Thursday evening.

The Delhi Police have also imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC outside the CM’s residence and the ED office on APJ Abdul Kalam Road.

Senior officers, including Deputy Commissioner of Police (North), M.K. Meena, and officers of ACP rank were present at the spot.

Delhi Ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj, along with other AAP leaders, had also reached the CM’s residence after news of the ED team reaching there spread, and claimed that they were stopped from entering the house.

Atishi said that searches were going on at Kejriwal’s house, adding that the ED had come with the intent to arrest the Chief Minister.

“It’s evident how the ED, under the influence of the BJP, demonstrates disregard for the judiciary. Had they respected the courts, they wouldn’t have conducted a raid at Arvind Kejriwal’s residence today. This situation reeks of political scheming, as their main intention appears to be to arrest Arvind Kejriwal,” she said.

Earlier in the day, a division bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain, after hearing the arguments from both sides, declined to pass any order granting interim relief on Kejriwal’s plea.

The bench on Wednesday asked him why he doesn’t appear before the probe agency in response to the summons.

On Thursday, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, contended that the ED’s summons lacked clarity regarding the capacity in which Kejriwal was asked to appear, accusing the agency of attempting to create an uneven playing field ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

In response, ASG S.V. Raju, along with special counsel Zoheb Hossain, appearing for the ED, opposed granting interim relief (to Arvind Kejriwal), saying that the law must be applied uniformly to all individuals, regardless of their position.

He clarified that Kejriwal was summoned in his personal capacity, and not as the Chief Minister or the Aam Aadmi Party chief, as he stressed the necessity for the Delhi CM’s interrogation based on the available evidence.

The ED had issued its first summons to Kejriwal in October last year, the second in December, and the third summon to appear before it for questioning on January 3.

It had summoned him for the fourth time on January 13, asking him to appear before it on January 18, before issuing its fifth summons to Kejriwal, telling him to appear before the agency on February 2.

On February 19, Kejriwal skipped the ED’s sixth summons in connection with the excise policy case. After Kejriwal skipped the seventh summons issued on February 22, the agency issued the eighth summons asking him to appear before it on March 4.

The ninth summons was scheduled for March 21.

The ED has also issued summons to CM Kejriwal in the Delhi Jal Board case.

IANS

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