Probe Agency Approaches Court After Arvind Kejriwal Skips 5th Summons

The Delhi Chief Minister had refused to appear before the agency for questioning on Friday.

Mr Kejriwal has repeatedly claimed that the agency's only aim is to arrest him.

New Delhi:

A day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal skipped the fifth summons in the alleged liquor policy scam, the Enforcement Directorate has approached a court and filed a complaint stating that he has not appeared for questioning. The Rouse Avenue court in New Delhi will hear the case on Wednesday. 

Mr Kejriwal had refused to appear before the Enforcement Directorate on Friday and has repeatedly claimed that the summonses issued were illegal and the agency's only aim is to arrest him. Speculation about the AAP chief's arrest has been rife ever since the first summons was issued by the agency on November 2.

Two other AAP leaders - former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh - were taken into custody in connection with the case last year. 

The Enforcement Directorate's complaint before the Rouse Avenue court on Saturday has been filed under Section 63 (4) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which deals with a person intentionally disobeying any direction issued under Section 50 - the clause that gives the agency the power to summon a person. 

Section 174 of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to non-attendance in obedience to an order from a public servant, also finds mention in the complaint. 

Reacting to Friday's summons, the AAP had termed the agency's actions "politically motivated" and "unlawful".

"PM Narendra Modi's aim is to arrest Arvind Kejriwal and topple the Delhi government. We will not allow this to happen," the party had said in a statement.

The Delhi chief minister has skipped five summons by the ED - on November 2, December 21, January 3, January 19 and February 2 - and had been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the case in April last year, but was not made an accused by the agency. The ED is investigating the money-laundering angle in the case. 

The Case 

Under the liquor policy, introduced in November 2021, the government withdrew from retail sale of liquor and allowed private licensees to run stores. In July 2022, Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar flagged gross violations in the policy and alleged "undue benefits" to liquor licensees. The policy was scrapped in September that year.

The CBI has alleged that liquor companies were involved in framing the excise policy, which would have brought them a 12% profit. It said a liquor lobby dubbed the "South Group" had paid kickbacks, part of which were routed to public servants. The Enforcement Directorate has alleged laundering of the kickbacks.

The BJP has claimed that the proceeds of the alleged scam were used by the AAP to fund its campaign for the Gujarat Assembly polls in 2022, in which it got 12.91% of the votes and established itself as a national party.