ED arrests Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in liquor policy case

NEW DELHI — Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday night in an excise policy-linked money laundering case, officials said, as reported by PTI.

The arrest, the first of a sitting chief minister, came hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant protection to the AAP national convenor from any coercive action by the agency.

The 55-year-old leader’s arrest, amid campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, drew angry reactions from his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The party said Kejriwal “will continue as the chief minister of Delhi. If need be, he will run the government from jail.”

The BJP though demanded that Kejriwal step down as chief minister on moral grounds.

In a day of fast-paced developments, a 10-member ED team led by an additional director reached his official residence on Flagstaff Road in Civil Lines in the national capital soon after the high court order and carried out searches.

He was arrested more than two hours after the ED team arrived at his residence, officials said.

Officials said the ED would produce the chief minister before a court here on Friday and seek his custody for interrogation in the case.

Kejriwal had skipped nine summonses issued by the agency for questioning in the case, the latest being for Thursday, March 21.

He has called these summonses “illegal”.

As the ED officials carried out their action inside, additional Delhi Police personnel and Rapid Action Force (RAF) and CRPF teams were deployed around the chief minister’s residence.

The additional deployment was made as the ED sought extra security measures in anticipation of protests by AAP supporters, sources said.

A large number of AAP workers and leaders gathered near the chief minister’s residence and shouted slogans hailing Kejriwal and denouncing the ED action.

The Delhi Police also stepped up security around the agency office on A P J Abdul Kalam Road in central Delhi.

During the day, Kejriwal moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s order denying him any relief in the matter.

Later, AAP leader Atishi said they have moved the Supreme Court for quashing the arrest of Kejriwal and “asked for an urgent hearing…tonight itself.”

The ED’s action is virtually a replay of what transpired during the arrest last week of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha, who is now in ED custody in the same case.

The case pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in formulating and executing the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22, which was later scrapped.

AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are in judicial custody in the case.