Explained: ED's options after Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal skips summons in excise policy case
Arvind Kejriwal, who opted to skip his scheduled appearance before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday in the Delhi liquor excise policy case, addressed the probe agency in writing, urging the withdrawal of their summons, terming it "illegal and politically motivated".
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal opted to skip his scheduled appearance before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday to provide a statement in the case concerning the excise policy in Delhi. Kejriwal addressed the ED in writing, urging the withdrawal of their summons, terming it "illegal and politically motivated". Instead, he is en route to Madhya Pradesh for campaigning, given the state's forthcoming assembly elections slated for this month.
"The said summons does not specify whether I am being summoned as an individual or in my official capacity as Chief Minister of Delhi or as National Convenor of AAP and appears to be in the nature of a fishing and roving inquiry," Kejriwal added in the two-page letter to the ED.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) holds jurisdiction over investigating financial crimes such as money laundering and foreign exchange violations nationwide. Empowered by the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the ED is authorized to summon individuals and entities for interrogation and to request documentation.
Potential Actions by the Probe Agency:
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is anticipated to issue a renewed summons to Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Chief Minister. In accordance with ED protocol, an individual can overlook three summons.
Subsequent to the third instance of non-compliance, the agency has the authority to request a non-bailable warrant (NBW).
The NBW demands that the individual must present themselves before the court at the specified date and time. If an individual fails to abide by the NBW, the consequences involve the possibility of arrest and subsequent appearance before the court.
Options Available to Kejriwal:
Arvind Kejriwal has available legal recourse to contest the summonses issued by the ED. He holds the option to approach the court to challenge the summons. In addition to this, he has the right to seek anticipatory bail, a legal provision where an individual seeks bail in anticipation of an arrest on accusations or charges brought against them.
The Delhi Liquor Scam:
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED are jointly examining the previously annulled excise policy of the Delhi government for 2021-22. Allegations suggest the policy favored specific liquor dealers. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) strongly refutes these claims. Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena proposed a CBI investigation into suspected irregularities in the policy based on a report from the Delhi government's chief secretary.
The purported anomalies in the liquor policy include a waiver of Rs 144 crore to retail licensees for COVID-19-induced sales losses and a refund of Rs 30 crore to a winning airport zone bidder who lacked a no objection certificate to open liquor stores, as stated by officials.
In April, Kejriwal underwent a nine-hour interrogation by the CBI regarding the case. Earlier in February, AAP leader and former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia was apprehended by the CBI.