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“Sole Purpose Of Arrest To Humiliate Me”: Arvind Kejriwal’s Bail Hearing

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New Delhi:

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal – arrested in the alleged liquor policy scam – lashed out at the Enforcement Directorate Wednesday, declaring “the sole purpose of the arrest is to humiliate me… to incapacitate me”. Arguing for interim relief before the Delhi High Court, Mr Kejriwal said the ED had acted without any “inquiry, statement, or material that could be the basis of an arrest”.

The AAP boss – whose arrest weeks before the Lok Sabha election led to furious protests and claims the ruling BJP is trying to shut down rival parties to ensure a massive victory – accused the agency of preventing him from participating in elections. “Efforts are being made to break the AAP,” he said.

Appearing for the Chief Minister, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued the ED “does not have any evidence against Arvind Kejriwal”. “While arresting Mr Kejriwal, no attempt was made to take his statement at home… ED should have done this before arresting him,” he said.

“‘Level playing field’ (before an election) is not just a phrase. It is part of ‘free and fair elections’ which is part of a democratic structure. This case reeks of timing issues,” Mr Singhvi began.

“What is this urgency? I am not talking about politics… I am talking about law,” he continued, arguing the arrest was meant to “demolish Aam Aadmi Party before first vote is cast”.

The AAP is part of the Congress-led INDIA opposition bloc that is bidding to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP from winning a third consecutive term.

Mr Singhvi also questioned the ED over the issue of multiple summons to the Chief Minister, particularly after the AAP leader had moved the court to challenge the agency’s call.

“…my not responding to summons is a nice point of prejudice… it is a red herring,” he said, referring to the nine letters sent by the ED demanding that Mr Kejriwal join the investigation.

READ | AAP Says Arvind Kejriwal Unwell, Lost 4.5 Kg In Jail, Officials Disagree

“Was there a possibility of Arvind Kejriwal fleeing? Did he try to influence any witness in one-and-a half years? Did he refuse to be questioned?” the senior advocate asked.

Mr Singhvi also referred to the clutch of statements against the Delhi Chief Minister.

“…in first statements there will be nothing against me. Then some are arrested and, for first time, they give a statement against me and get bail without objection. Then they get pardon and become approver,” he said, “It’s a completely biased approach. It’s not the way criminal law can be applied.”

This point was also made Tuesday, when the Supreme Court granted bail to AAP MP Sanjay Singh, who had been arrested in October in the same case.

READ | AAP’s Sanjay Singh Gets Bail After 6 Months In Liquor Policy Case

The court observed Dinesh Arora – one of the accused-turned-approvers – did not implicate Mr Singh initially. Mr Singh was arrested after he was named in a later statement. Dinesh Arora got bail in August.

“Prosecution is saying, ’till you give statement against Kejriwal, I’ll keep recording…'”

“Is it not shameful? Out of 13 statements by (Magunta) Reddy, he says nothing in 11. But the judge will go by one? All others are also under Section 50 (of the PMLA),” Mr Singhvi said.

Mr Kejriwal – whom the ED has said is the “kingpin” in the alleged scam – is currently in Delhi’s Tihar Jail; on Tuesday he was remanded to judicial custody till April 15, after spending over 10 days in the agency’s lock-up. The ED did not seek further custody but said his release could hamper its probe.

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