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Excise policy case: Delhi HC dismisses CM Kejriwal's plea challenging arrest by ED, remand order by trial court (Lead)

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New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest by the ED and the trial court order remanding him to the agency’s custody.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, who presided over the case noted the ED’s submission that CM Kejriwal was in possession of enough material which had led them to arrest him.

Notably, last week, the ED had filed its counter-affidavit to CM Kejriwal’s petition.

Since his counsel Ramesh Gupta had submitted before Special Judge Kaveri Baweja of Rouse Avenue Court that CM Kejriwal has no objection to the custody/remand being extended further, it had said that the “petitioner (Kejriwal) has waived his right to question his custody as on today and the petitioner cannot now be allowed to argue that his custody as on today is illegal and present petition is liable to be dismissed on this ground alone.”

Justice Sharma on Tuesday dismissed CM Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest, citing sufficient evidence presented by the ED, including statements from approvers and allegations of involvement in the formulation of the excise policy.

“The court is of the view that the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal was not in contravention of legal provisions. The remand can’t be held to be illegal,” Justice Sharma said while reading out her order.

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Responding to the Delhi CM’s contention regarding the timing of his arrest ahead of the General Elections, she said that law applied equally to all and courts were concerned with “constitutional morality” and not “political morality”.

“This court observed that political considerations and equations cannot be brought before a court of law as they are not relevant for legal proceedings. In the case at hand, it is important to clarify that the matter before this court is not a conflict between the central government and petitioner Kejriwal. Instead it is a case between Kejriwal and Directorate of Enforcement,” Justice Sharma said.

The court said the statements of approvers against the AAP National Convenor would be judged during trial as it cannot hold a mini trial at this stage.

It added that the AAP leader would be free to cross-examine the approvers at the stage of trial.

Justice Sharma said that the material collected by the ED suggested CM Kejriwal’s complicity in the alleged money laundering scheme, both in his personal capacity and as the National Convenor of the AAP.

The court held that Section 70 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which penalises offences by companies, was applicable in this case, despite CM Kejriwal’s argument that AAP is a political party and not a company.

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Addressing concerns raised about the credibility of statements provided by approvers, the court defended the judicial process, saying that approver statements are recorded by the court and not by the probe agency.

It rebuffed allegations of coercion, stating that questioning the manner of recording statements undermines the judicial process.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing CM Kejriwal, argued that the ED failed to comply with Section 50 of the PMLA, and alleged coercion of approvers.

However, the court upheld the legality of the arrest and remand, maintaining that the AAP leader would have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, including approvers, at the appropriate stage of the trial.

“The files and material placed before us reveal that the mandate of law was followed by the ED. The trial court order is not a two line order. The statements with ED are of hawala dealers as well as AAP candidates in Goa elections,” the court noted.

In its counter affidavit, the ED had submitted that the remand order dated March 22 and the subsequent remand orders dated March 28 and April 1 under challenge are detailed and well-reasoned orders as is evident on a bare reading of the said orders and hence “warrant no interference.”

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The agency had said that it complied with all procedural requirements of Section 19(1) and (2) of the PMLA as well as Article 22(1) and (2) of the Constitution of India during the arrest and remand of CM Kejriwal.

The agency had claimed that the AAP leader was the kingpin and key conspirator of the Delhi excise scam in collusion with ministers of the Delhi government, AAP leaders and other persons and that it has material in possession which demonstrates that he is guilty of the offence of money laundering.

The ED had also alleged that CM Kejriwal was directly involved in the formulation of the Excise Policy 2021-22, drafted “considering the favours to be granted to the South Group” and that he demanded kickbacks from the South Group in exchange for favours to them in the formulation and implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22.

The Delhi High Court had, on March 27, refused any interim relief to CM Kejriwal, who was arrested by the ED on March 21 and is currently in judicial custody till April 15. A copy of Justice Sharma’s detailed order is awaited.

–IANS

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Wanted 'lady don' arrested by Delhi Police

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) A 22-year-old alleged ‘lady don’, also a member of Deepak Agrola and Karamveer Kaala gang, was arrested from Fatehpur area in the national capital, said a Delhi Police’s Special Cell official on Tuesday.

The accused was identified as Kaili Tanwar, a resident of Ghaziabad district in Uttar Pradesh and was also carrying a reward of Rs 25,000 on her head.

According to police, specific input was received regarding one Kaili Tanwar, who was wanted in a murder case in Loni police station and living in the area of village Mandi, was going to be near the bus stand in Fatehpur, Delhi.

“On the basis of the above said information she was apprehended from the Fatehpur area on Monday,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Amit Kaushik.

During interrogation, she disclosed her involvement in the murder case and subsequently was arrested in Kalandra under section 41.1 (ba) Cr.P.C. and produced before the court.

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The officer said that an old rivalry between two groups in Loni led to the murder.

“The accused of this murder belongs to Deepak Agrola and Karamveer Kaala gang. UP Police had declared a reward of 25,000/- on the arrest of Kaili,” said the officer.

“Earlier on May 3, Md. Faijan a.k.a Nanhe, who was also wanted in the same case was also arrested by the team of Special Cell after a brief exchange of fire,” the DCP added.

–IANS

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Six youths hurt in Mumbai's Dharavi slum fire

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Mumbai, May 28 (IANS) At least six persons were hurt in a major fire that broke out in a slum tenement in Mumbai’s Dharavi on Tuesday, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Disaster Control officials said.

The fire was noticed around 3.50 a.m. when the occupants of the structure in Ashok Mills Compound were fast asleep.

The fire was confined to the electrical writing and fittings, garment stocks, some machinery and office records in the ground-plus-3 and ground-plus-4 storied commercial structures.

A Mumbai Fire Brigade team rushed to the spot in minutes and after a four-hour-long battle, managed to douse the flames.

The injured victims were rushed to the BMC’s Sion Hospital nearby.

They are Salman Khan, 26, Manoj, 25 – both with 8-10 percent burns, Amjad, 22 and

Sallauddin, 28, and Saidul Rehman, 26, all with 35-50 percent burns.

One victim Rafiq Ahmed, 26, who suffered some hand injuries, was treated and discharged, and the cause of the conflagration is being probed.

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–IANS

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Bomb threat for IndiGo flight at Delhi airport turns out to be hoax (Ld)

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) An IndiGo flight bound for Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh received a bomb threat at Delhi airport on Tuesday morning, which later turned out to be a hoax, police said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (IGI Airport) Usha Rangnani said that at around 5 a.m., information was received regarding a paper found in the lavatory of an Indigo flight scheduled to depart for Varanasi, with the word ‘bomb@5.30’ written on it.”

“Following the standard security protocols, a thorough inspection was conducted, and no suspicious items were found,” said the DCP.

According to airline officials, IndiGo flight 6E2211 operating from Delhi to Varanasi with 176 passengers onboard, had received a specific bomb threat at the airport.

The threat call was received at around 5.40 a.m., said officials.

“All necessary protocols were followed and the aircraft was taken to a remote bay as per guidelines by airport security agencies.

All passengers were safely evacuated via the emergency exits,” said an airline official.

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In a similar incident on May 16, a tissue paper, with the word “bomb” written on it, was found in the Air India flight AI819 lavatory at Delhi airport, prompting security agencies to conduct an inspection, but it turned out to be a hoax.

–IANS

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Two injured as DTC buses crash in southwest Delhi

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) Two people sustained injuries after a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus hit another stationary bus in southwest Delhi’s Nauroji Nagar on Tuesday morning, police said.

Sharing the details, police said that information was received on Tuesday morning at Safdarjung Enclave police station regarding an accident at Nauroji Nagar bus stand on Outer Ring Road between two DTC buses.

Upon reaching the spot, it was revealed that a DTC electric bus driven by Akash was picking up passengers from the Nauroji Nagar bus stand when another DTC bus driven by Chandveer hit it from the rear side.

“Two persons namely Mukesh Kumar and Shamshula, both residents of Durga Park, West Sagarpur, received minor injuries and are undergoing treatment at AIIMS Trauma Centre,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Rohit Meena.

“Legal action is being taken in the matter,” the DCP added.

–IANS

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No feasibility study needed for solar rooftop connections up to 10 kW in TN

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Chennai, May 28 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) has directed the state power utility TANGEDCO not to conduct a technical feasibility study for solar rooftop proposals of up to 10 kilowatts.

The regulatory commission in the state in an order dated May 23, has directed the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) to exempt consumers using solar rooftops of up to 10 kilowatt power based on Rule 7(A) of Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Amendment Rules, 2004.

The TNERC came out with the directive after TANGEDCO ordered an exemption on solar rooftops with a capacity of up to only 3 kilowatts.

The directive was required after several households complained that there was a delay in installing rooftop solar systems in households by the TANGEDCO.

The regulatory commission also directed TANGEDCO that the sanction power of the Grid Interactive Solar Photovoltaic Power System capacity of up to 10 kW should be delegated to the lower-level field officers.

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While TANGEDCO has to conduct the study and produce the feasibility report for a solar rooftop project in households within a fortnight, consumers told IANS that there has been an inordinate delay.

Meenakshi Sundaram, a retired College professor, who wanted to install a solar rooftop connection of 8 kW, told IANS that there has been a long delay from Tangedco and several consumers like her were dejected.

–IANS

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