Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday did not appear before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in an excise policy-linked case and wrote to the agency demanding withdrawal of the notice summoning him, claiming it was “illegal and politically motivated”.
According to official sources, the ED is now expected to issue fresh summons to him. Earlier in the day, an AAP source said Kejriwal will go to Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli where he will take part in a roadshow along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
The Delhi Chief Minister’s Office said that in the reply to the probe agency’s notice, Kejriwal alleged the summons was “illegal, politically motivated” and aimed at preventing him from campaigning in the poll-bound states.
It was also “vague, motivated and unsustainable in law”, Kejriwal has alleged while claiming the notice was sent to him for extraneous considerations at the behest of the BJP.
The Delhi chief minister questioned in what capacity was he called for questioning by the probe agency. “The said summons is not clear as to the capacity in which I am being summoned i.e. as a witness or a suspect.” He also said that the notice failed to provide details or reasons for him being called for questioning and termed it a “fishing and roving” exercise by the Enforcement Directorate.
“The said summons does not specify whether I am being summoned as an individual or in my official capacity as chief minister of Delhi or as national convenor of AAP,” Kejriwal said.
The chief minister also claimed that the notice appeared to be motivated.
“Simultaneous to the summons, in the afternoon of 30.10.2023, BJP leaders started making statements that soon I would be summoned and arrested. By the evening of that day, I received your summons. “It is thus apparent that the said summons was leaked to select BJP leaders to malign my image and reputation and has been issued at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre,” Kejriwal charged.
He claimed that BJP MP Manoj Tiwari had “openly” said on the afternoon of October 30 — the day the summons was issued to Kejriwal — that the chief minister would be arrested.
Kejriwal said he is the chief minister of Delhi as well as the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party and is required to travel as a “star campaigner” of his party to Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana where Assembly polls are to be held this month.
Also, he stated his official commitments as chief minister of Delhi for which his presence was required, particularly in view of the Diwali festival in the second week of November, and asked ED to recall its summons to him.
ED sources indicated that a fresh date for summoning Kejriwal could be issued for a closer date as the Supreme Court has recently taken note of the prosecution’s assurance that the trial in the case will be concluded within the next 6-8 months.
The central agency had summoned Kejriwal for questioning in the alleged Delhi excise policy case and to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act PMLA.
Kejriwal’s party colleagues Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are in judicial custody in this case.
The AAP had alleged that Kejriwal would be the first to be arrested as part of the BJP’s plan to target top INDIA alliance leaders ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and the ED summons were an attempt to finish the party that is in power in Delhi and Punjab.
It is alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge repeatedly refuted by the AAP.
The policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the PMLA.