Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday skipped the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate to question him in connection with the liquor excise policy case, NDTV reported.
Instead, he is travelling to Madhya Pradesh to campaign for the Assembly elections, ANI reported.
The chief minister also wrote a letter to the Enforcement Directorate urging the agency to recall the summons.
“Being the national convener and a star campaigner of the AAP [Aam Aadmi Party], I am required to travel for campaigning and to provide political guidance to my field workers of AAP,” Kejriwal said. “As the CM of Delhi, I have governance and official commitments for which my presence is required, particularly in view of Diwali coming up in the second week of November 2023.”
Kejriwal was sent the summons by the central agency on Tuesday. The Enforcement Directorate’s case is based on a first information report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation that has alleged irregularities in the Aam Aadmi Party government’s now-scrapped excise policy. The Central Bureau of Investigation questioned Kejriwal for nearly nine hours on April 16.
The Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate have alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party modified the liquor excise policy to ensure a 12% profit margin for wholesalers and a nearly 185% profit margin for retailers.
The Enforcement Directorate has also claimed that members of a so-called South Group had paid at least Rs 100 crore in kickbacks to leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party through businessman Vijay Nair.
In the letter to the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday, Kejriwal said that it is not clear to him if he had been summoned as a witness or a suspect in the case that “appears to be in the nature of a fishing and roving inquiry”.
He also said that the notice issued to him did not specify if he was being summoned as an individual, in his capacity as the chief minister or as the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Kejriwal said that leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party had made statements about him being summoned by the Enforcement Directorate even before he received the notice. “It is thus apparent that the said summons was leaked to select BJP leaders to malign my image and reputation and has been issued at the behest of the ruling party at the Centre,” he said.
Earlier on Thursday Kejriwal said that the notice issued to him is “illegal and politically motivated”, reported ANI.
“The notice was sent at the behest of the [Bharatiya Janata Party],” Kejriwal said, according to ANI. “Notice was sent to ensure that I am unable to go for [the Assembly] election campaigning in four states. ED should withdraw the notice immediately.”
Kejriwal was summoned for interrogation on Thursday under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. His name is mentioned multiple times in the Enforcement Directorate chargesheet, which states that the accused persons were in touch with the chief minister for the preparation of the policy, PTI reported.
However, Kejriwal has not been named as an accused in the chargesheet.
The agency is now likely to issue fresh summons to the Aam Aadmi Party supremo.
On the chief minister skipping the Enforcement Directorate summon, the Bharatiya Janata Party said that Kejriwal’s action was “unfortunate”.
“When constitutional agencies call you, you should go and clear that why ED summoned you,” said Dushyant Gautam, the national general secretary of BJP. “The reason is that the leaders who are inside [the jail] must have given the documents, there must be some evidence. If there isn’t any, deny it there. But the country will function as per the Constitution.”
Another minister raided
Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday searched Delhi Social Welfare Minister Raaj Kumar Anand’s house in a customs-related money laundering case, PTI reported. Several properties linked to Anand, including one in the Civil Lines area of New Delhi, were also searched.
The raids were undertaken as per provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The investigation is based on a charge sheet filed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.
The intelligence agency has accused Anand of false declarations in imports for customs evasion of more than Rs 7 crore, apart from international hawala transactions.
After raids on Anand, Aam Aadmi Party leader Saurabh Bharadwaj said that the minister’s only fault is being a part of an Opposition party, reported ANI.
“Even during the British era, if you had to search someone’s house, you needed a search warrant from the court,” said Bharadwaj. “Even the British believed that if you give the right to police or any agency to enter someone’s house to search there will be an atmosphere of terror.”