Arvind Kejriwal terms his arrest as unprecedented assault on tenets of democracy, urges SC to order release

09:05 AM Apr 11, 2024 | PTI |

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has termed his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate ahead of the general elections in a money laundering case linked to excise policy scam as an “unprecedented assault on the tenets of democracy” and urged the Supreme Court to release him by declaring the case against him as “illegal”.


Earlier in the day, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said he will look into Kejriwal’s request for an early listing of his plea against a high court order upholding his arrest. He asked Kejriwal’s lawyer to send an email.

In a massive blow to the chief minister, the Delhi High Court on April 9 upheld his arrest in the case, saying the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was left with “little option” after he skipped repeated summons and refused to join the investigation.

A single-judge bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma also cited the ED’s claim that Kejriwal conspired and was actively involved in the use and concealment of the proceeds of crime to reject his petition against his arrest.

In the appeal filed in the top court, Kejriwal said his arrest on March 21 after the announcement of the general elections is ‘obviously motivated by extraneous considerations’.


“The intervention of this court is urgently warranted, as over and above the issue of illegal curtailment of liberty, the petitioner’s arrest also constitutes an unprecedented assault on the tenets of democracy, free and fair elections and federalism, both of which form significant constituents of the basic structure of the Constitution,” it said.

The arrest was made solely relying on subsequent, contradictory and highly belated statements of co-accused who have now turned approvers, it said.

Moreover, such statements and material were in possession of the Enforcement Directorate since the last nine months and still the arrest has been made illegally in the middle of general elections 2024, the plea said.

“The petitioner’s arrest bears serious, irreversible ramifications for the future of electoral democracy in India and if he is not released forthwith to participate in the upcoming elections, it will establish a precedence in law for ruling parties to arrest heads of political opposition on flimsy and vexatious charges before elections, thereby eroding the core principles of our Constitution,” the plea said and sought his immediate release by terming the arrest as illegal.

Assailing the high court verdict, the plea said the judgement failed to appreciate that the statements made before the probe agency are not held to be gospel truth and can always be doubted by the courts.

“The High Court in the impugned judgement failed to appreciate that such statement of co-accused ‘“ later- turned approver statements cannot be the starting point for ascertaining the guilt of the accused person, and also the HC has failed to appreciate the procedure adopted by the ED in procuring such statements by coercion,” the plea said.

The high court did not appreciate that the subsequent, contradictory and belated statement made before the ED on the inducement of bail and exoneration cannot be ‘ex-facie be relied upon’ for purposes of ascertaining the guilt of Kejriwal.

“The ED has allowed its process to be used and misused by vested interests as an instrument of oppression to not only invade the liberty of the political opponents in the midst of general elections, 2024 of such vested interest but also to tarnish their reputation and self-esteem. Such lawlessness cannot be allowed to be perpetrated under any circumstances,” it said.


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