Kejriwal Arrest: Why did the Supreme Court tell Kejriwal’s lawyer Singhvi to save his arguments for later?

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New Delhi, 15th April 2024: On Monday, Delhi’s anti-corruption policy took a disappointing turn as the Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, accused in the Delhi liquor policy scam of money laundering, is currently in custody. While the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest, it did not heed the demand to hear the case immediately due to his participation in election campaigning.

The court has asked the ED to submit its response by April 24 and has ordered the case to be listed for hearing in the week starting April 29. This makes it clear that there will be no relief for Kejriwal in this arrest case until April 28. However, Kejriwal is currently in judicial custody and has the option to file a bail application. On Monday, the order was given by Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Deepankar Datta of the Delhi High Court after hearing Kejriwal’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s decision. The Delhi High Court had dismissed Kejriwal’s plea on April 9 and upheld his arrest as valid. When the case came up for hearing on Monday, Kejriwal’s lawyer, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, sought some interim relief from the Supreme Court or an early hearing date for the case. However, the court did not grant his request and issued a notice to consider the plea. The court said that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should submit its response by April 24, after which the petitioner can file a reply by April 26. The case will be listed for hearing in the week starting April 29.

The court clarified to Singhvi that he could not provide a closer date for the case. When Singhvi attempted to argue the case as exceptional, the court told him that they are currently issuing a notice and Singhvi should save his arguments for later. The court mentioned that they are aware of the facts of the case and have thoroughly reviewed the case file.

Singhvi said that he only wishes for the court to either grant interim relief or set a hearing date very soon. He mentioned that he wants to present some facts that will shake the conscience of the court. He said that eight charge sheets have been filed in this case and none of them mentions Kejriwal’s name. Singhvi mentioned that the story of this case began in September 2022 and Kejriwal was arrested in March 2024. During this period, 15 statements were recorded, nine by one individual and six by others and none of these statements mentioned Kejriwal’s name. Only one statement is positive. Singhvi raised questions about the timing of the arrest, stating that he was arrested after the announcement of elections and the enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct to prevent him from participating in election campaigning. The first phase of the election is on April 19, so he demanded a closer date for the case hearing, preferably on Friday.

Responding to this, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the ED, opposed the argument, saying that election campaigning cannot be the basis for granting relief in such cases. The bench told Singhvi that since the court has issued a notice on the case, he should not continue the argument. The Delhi High Court, while dismissing Kejriwal’s plea, had stated in its order that it is not the accused’s job to determine how an investigation should be conducted and no one, including the CM, can claim any special privileges.

The High Court had also rejected the arguments suggesting politically motivated actions and had pointed out that despite receiving repeated summons from the ED, Kejriwal did not cooperate with the investigation.

Highlights –

– No relief for Kejriwal from the Supreme Court for now
– The hearing of Kejriwal’s case might conclude by the end of April
– Singhvi requested interim relief for CM Kejriwal from the court