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NEW DELHI: AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal shared a video message on Friday, urging people to reach out to the Delhi Chief Minister and express their support to him. She also shared a phone number. “You can send your messages of support, anything you want to tell him on this number”, she said. She added, “Every one of your messages will reach him…I will deliver these to him in jail.”

Appeal For Support Amid Legal Battles

Sunita Kejriwal, while addressing the public, initiated the “Kejriwal ko Aashirvaad” campaign, encouraging individuals to send their blessings and well-wishes to the Chief Minister through a WhatsApp number. This appeal comes amidst Arvind Kejriwal’s extended custody following his arrest on March 21 in connection with the purported liquor policy scam. Despite the legal entanglements, Sunita Kejriwal remains resolute in rallying support from the citizens.

Legal Proceedings And Extensions

Arvind Kejriwal’s detention, which has now been extended until April 1, stems from allegations concerning money laundering linked to the Excise Policy. The recent court proceedings saw the Delhi Chief Minister himself presenting arguments, questioning the validity of his arrest based on limited evidence and statements. He emphasized the need for a fair and thorough investigation, dismissing the accusations against him as politically motivated.

ED’s Allegations And Political Ramifications

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has levelled accusations against Kejriwal, implicating him in orchestrating the controversial excise policy and allegedly benefiting from illicit gains. However, Kejriwal and his legal team vehemently deny these claims, asserting that the charges are part of a broader agenda to undermine the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and destabilize the elected government in Delhi.

Court’s Notice To ED

In response to Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest and subsequent remand, the Delhi High Court has issued notices to the ED, signalling a potential legal battle ahead. The court, while recognizing the significance of fair hearings, has scheduled further proceedings for April 3, 2024. This development underscores the complexity and gravity of the legal challenges facing the Chief Minister.

The court, while fixing the matter for April 3, 2024, further stated that any release order from custody will amount to enlarging the accused/petitioner/ Arvind Kejriwal on bail or interim bail, as an interim measure. The writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is not a ready substitute for recourse to the remedy of bail under Section 439 of the Cr.P.C. ordinarily.

Arvind Kejriwal, through his plea, alleged that the DOE has, at the time of his arrest failed to establish that the petitioner is guilty of committing activities stipulated under Section 3, i.e., be it one of concealment, possession, acquisition, or use of proceeds of crime, as much as projecting it as untainted property or claiming it to be so.

According to Kejriwal’s plea, both the arrest and the remand order are illegal and he is entitled to be released from custody. The plea stated that without there being any material in possession of the Enforcement Directorate on the basis of which the petitioner (Arvind Kejriwal), can be believed to be guilty of an offence, the petitioner is being illegally and arbitrarily arrested by ED in the evening of March 21.

The trial court on March 22, sent Arvind Kejriwal to ED remand till March 28. ED alleged that the Aam Adami Party (AAP) is the major beneficiary of the proceeds of crime generated in the alleged liquor scam. The agency claimed that Kejriwal was directly involved in the formation of the excise policy.

It also claimed that due to the actions of Arvind Kejriwal involving excise policy formulation, hatching the conspiracy of kickbacks with the South Group members, and eventually using part of the proceeds of crime generated out of this scheduled offence in the election campaign of the AAP for the Goa Assembly elections, it is clear that all these activities were not only done with his knowledge but also his active collusion.

Excise Policy Case Background 

Kejriwal was arrested by the central agency late Thursday night on charges of corruption in relation to the case. It is the first time in independent India that a serving Chief Minister has been arrested. The move came after Kejriwal skipped multiple summons by the investigation agency, nine in total, calling them “illegal”. The case pertains to alleged irregularities and money laundering in framing and implementing the Delhi Excise Policy 2022, which was later scrapped.

While Kejriwal was not named in the FIRs registered by the ED or the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Delhi excise policy case, his name first found a mention in the ED’s chargesheet, wherein the agency claimed that he allegedly spoke to one of the main accused, Sameer Mahendru, in a video call and asked him to continue working with co-accused and AAP communications-in-charge Vijay Nair. Nair was among the first people to be arrested by the CBI in the case, in 2022. Subsequently, former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh were arrested in connection with the case.