Arvind Kejriwal Back In Supreme Court After 18 Days And High Court Setback

Liquor Policy Case: Arvind Kejriwal's counsel will raise the matter before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud around 10.30 am and seek an urgent hearing.

Arvind Kejriwal's challenge to his arrest was dismissed by the high court yesterday

A day after the Delhi High Court dismissed his petition challenging his arrest in the liquor policy case, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal approached the Supreme Court today. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader's counsel raised the matter before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and sought an urgent hearing. The Chief Justice refused to specify if a hearing will be granted today. "We will see, we will look into it," he said.

The high court yesterday dismissed Mr Kejriwal's challenge to his March 21 arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The court held that the central agency was left with "little option" after the AAP leader skipped multiple summonses in the money laundering case. It also pointed to the ED's allegation that Mr Kejriwal was actively involved in the use and concealment of alleged proceeds of crime.

The court stressed that there is no separate protocol for a probe agency to follow for questioning a common man and a Chief Minister. 

"Further, this Court holds that this Court would not lay down two different categories of laws, one for common citizens, and the other granting special privilege to be extended by investigating agency to a Chief Minister or any other person in power only on the basis of being in that public office since that public office is enjoyed by that public figure due to the mandate of the public," Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said in her statement.

Responding to the high court judgment, AAP leader and Delhi Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the ED and the CBI did not find even a rupee during their searches in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. "They are talking about crores. But ED and CBI have not found even a rupee of illegal money. Witnesses have been pressured to change their statements and say what ED wants them to," he said. "This issue is not about money laundering. This is the biggest political conspiracy in India's history," he said.

Mr Bharadwaj also said that the high court had denied relief to AAP MP Sanjay Singh on the same grounds, but the Supreme Court granted him bail. "We hope Arvind Kejriwal, too, will get justice from the Supreme Court," he said.

Earlier, Mr Kejriwal had approached the Supreme Court a day after he was arrested, but later withdrew his petition to raise the matter in the trial court. This was on the same day on which a Supreme Court bench refused relief to Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha, also an accused in the liquor policy case. The top court had then said it cannot bypass protocol and asked Ms Kavitha to approach the trial court.

Eighteen days and a court setback later, Mr Kejriwal is back before the Supreme Court for relief.

It is alleged that the Delhi government's liquor policy, introduced in 2021 and withdrawn the next year, provided under benefits to liquor licencees. Following a recommendation from Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, the CBI started its probe into the allegations of irregularities. The ED is probing the money trail in the case. Besides Mr Kejriwal, former Deputy Chief Minister and senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia is in jail in the case. AAP MP Sanjay Singh, who was arrested in the same case, is out on bail.