The Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest in the liquor policy case under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, reported Bar and Bench.

Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21. On Monday, a court sent him to judicial custody until April 15, after the central agency did not seek his further remand. He is currently lodged in Tihar Jail.

Pronouncing its judgement on Kejriwal’s plea, the High Court said that the material collected by the central agency showed that the Aam Aadmi Party chief was actively involved in the use and concealment of the proceeds of crime.

“The ED case also reveals that he was involved in his personal capacity as well as convenor of AAP,” the court said.

The court also noted that the statements of Hyderabad-based businessman Sarath Chandra Reddy and Telugu Desam Party leader Raghav Magunta, two persons accused in the case who later turned approvers – or government witnesses – could not be doubted.

Hours before Kejriwal’s arrest, electoral bond data released by the Election Commission showed a company linked to Reddy had donated Rs 5 crore to the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2022, just five days after Reddy was taken in custody. Another Rs 25 crore was donated to the BJP after Reddy turned approver in the case.

Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy, the father of Raghav Magunta, got a Lok Sabha election ticket from the Telugu Desam Party, which is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, on March 29.

Addressing Kejriwal’s assertions about these developments, the court said that it could not “step into the shoes of the trial court”.

Commenting on the timing of Kejriwal’s arrest, just before the Lok Sabha elections, the court said that its orders cannot go into the realm of politics. “Judgements are given on legal principles not political considerations,” the court observed.

The High Court also rejected the contention that the chief minister could have been questioned through video conferencing, and said it is not for the accused person to decide how an investigation should be carried out.

“There cannot be any specific privilege for any one including the Chief Minister,” the court said, according to Bar and Bench.

The case

The Enforcement Directorate’s case is based on a first information report registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation alleging irregularities in the excise policy. The agencies have alleged that the Aam Aadmi Party modified the policy to ensure a 12% profit margin for wholesalers and a nearly 185% profit margin for retailers.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K Kavitha, among others, conspired with senior Aam Aadmi Party leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his former deputy Manish Sisodia, to secure favours in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped liquor excise policy of the national capital.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that about Rs 45 crore of this money was used by the Aam Aadmi Party for its 2022 Goa Assembly election campaign.