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‘Life, liberty are exceedingly important’: SC questions timing of Kejriwal’s arrest

The top court sought the agency’s clarification on absence of any attachment proceedings in this case thus far and asked ED to demonstrate how Kejriwal is implicated if such proceedings do exist.

kejriwal 2NEW DELHI: India’s top court on Tuesday questioned the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) decision to arrest Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in relation to the money laundering case tied to the excise policy.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, posed several questions to the ED regarding the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader’s arrest and instructed the probing to provide responses during the next hearing scheduled for May 3.

The top court also sought clarification from Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, who appeared for the ED, regarding the absence of any attachment proceedings in this case thus far.

Additionally, it requested the ED demonstrate how the petitioner (Kejriwal) is implicated if such proceedings do exist.

It said, “Mr Raju, we have some questions, which we would like you to answer, when you make your submissions. First is without there being any adjudicatory proceedings, can the ED initiate a criminal proceedings in view of several judgements of this court on PMLA?”

“Life and liberty are exceedingly important. You can’t deny that,” the bench told ASG Raju, who appeared on behalf of ED and sought his reply, saying: “The last question is with regard to the timing of the arrest, which they have pointed out, the timing of the arrest, soon before the general elections.”

The bench also highlighted the significant time gap between the commencement of adjudication proceedings in the case and the arrest action, citing Section 8 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which imposes a maximum limit of 365 days.

Justice Khanna said the verdict on the bail plea of former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who is in custody in the excise policy scam case, was divided into two parts: the first part was in favour of Sisodia and the second part was against him.

“You (Raju) have to tell us which part of Sisodia verdict does the petitioner (Kejriwal) case lie,” the bench said.

Justice Khanna said the third important question relates to the ED’s power of arrest, as it is the reason why Kejriwal has repeatedly approached the court.

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