The Delhi High Court has dismissed Arvind Kejriwal's plea against arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case related to the excise policy scam.

The Bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma while pronouncing the order clarified that the present Petition is not for grant of bail.

"The material which has been collected by ED reveals that Shri Arvind Kejriwal had conspired with other persons and was actively involved in the formulation of Delhi excise policy 2021-2022, in the process of demanding.. as well in generation of proceeds of crime. He was also allegedly involved in the offence of money laundering. He in personal capacity was involved in formulation of the excise policy. Secondly, in his capacity, the National Convenor..for use of proceeds of crime of Rs. 55 crores in the election campaign of Goa election," the Court observed.

The Court said that doubting grant of pardon to Approvers amounts to casting aspersions on Judicial process, as the statement of the approver is recorded by a Judicial Magistrate and not by the ED. The Court also translated the Order in Hindi. "This Court cannot step into the shoes of the Trial Court and conduct a mini trial," it said.

"This Court will not lay down two different categories of laws, one for the common citizen and other for granting special privileges for a Chief Minister," the Bench said.

On the argument on necessity of Arrest, the Court said, "ED has enough material against Shri Arvind Kejriwal."

While concluding, the Court remarked that Judges are bound by law and not by politics and Judgments are driven by legal principles and not political affiliations. It also observed, "The Courts of Law are one of the pillars of democracy. Judges as custodians of law are bound by the law and not by political considerations...The Judiciary starts with interpreting laws and adjudicating matters before it, based on existing laws and precedents and not by political considerations of either parties....Rather than going into the realm of politics. The Judiciary operates on the framework of legal principals."

The Court observed,"Political consideration and equations cannot be brought before a Court of law as they are not relevant to the legal proceedings. In the case at hand it is important to clarify that the matter before this Court is not a conflict between Central government and the Petitioner, Shri Kejriwal. Instead, it is the case between Shri Kejriwal and the Directorate of Enforcement."

Consequently, the Court ordered, "The Arrest of Petitioner herein, Shri Kejriwal was not in contravention of Section concerned or case of Pankaj Bansal. Consequent to that his remand therefore, cannot be termed as illegal. Though it was not argued before this Court as to whether the subsequent two remands were illegal or not. However, this Court deems it appropriate to state that even those two remands due to which Shri Kejriwal is at present in Jail, but also at behest of Shri Kejriwal himself who stated that he could be sent to judicial custody and his Counsel on the next said that he could be sent to judicial custody and he had no objection to the same."

"In view of thereof, the Petition filed before this Court stands disposed of," the Court ordered.

During the hearing, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhari, and Senior Advocate Amit Desai appeared for Kejriwal, and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, along with Advocate Zoheb Hossain, appeared for ED.

After hearing the arguments at length, on April 3, the Court had reserved the Order in Kejriwal's plea.

Pertinently, on April 1, Kejriwal was granted judicial custody till April 15. It is also to be noted that on March 27, the High Court had refused to granted any interim relief to the Chief Minister of Delhi. The Court had directed ED to file its reply in the interim Application as well as the main Writ Petition by April 2 and had clarified that no adjournment shall be granted on the date of the final hearing, i.e., April 3.

On March 28, the CM had made submissions in Hindi after taking permission from the Trial Court despite his Lawyers being present. Kejriwal had said a smokescreen of the AAP being corrupt has been created before the nation, and he had added that he is ready to face the ED probe. The submissions were made when the CM was produced on the expiration of his ED remand.

The AAP had first moved the Apex Court on Thursday (March 21) late in the evening after the ED arrested Kejriwal. The agency took him to its headquarters in Central Delhi. The Delhi CM's legal team had attempted to get a late night hearing from the Supreme Court. However, no special Supreme Court Bench was set up on Thursday night to hear the CM's plea challenging his Arrest.

The Arrest of the first sitting Chief Minister came hours after the Delhi High Court had refused to grant protection to the AAP national convenor from any coercive action by the agency.

Cause Title: Arvind Kejriwal v. Directorate of Enforcement [W.P. (CRL) 985/2024 & CRL.M.A. 9427/2024]