ED Names AAP as Accused in Delhi Liquor Policy Case

ED Names AAP as Accused in Delhi Liquor Policy Case

Today, the Supreme Court of India reserved its judgment on the petition filed by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal's plea challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case.

Last week, a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, who had granted interim release to Kejriwal until June 1, directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to provide the files. Justice Khanna specifically mentioned, "We want to review the statements of witnesses recorded after Manish Sisodia's judgment denial of bail and prior to Kejriwal's arrest," addressing Additional Solicitor General SV Raju.

The bench further clarified that Kejriwal retains the right to seek bail from the trial court, regardless of the Supreme Court reserving judgment, and without affecting the arguments presented by either party.

During today's hearing, when the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) mentioned evidence suggesting money transfers to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) via hawala channels, the bench inquired whether these details were included in the "reasons to believe" documented in writing for the arrest.

"We have not given in reasons to believe," ASG said. When the bench expressed surprise, the ASG said these aspects need not be stated in the "reasons to believe".

"How can you not provide reasons to believe? How can he contest those reasons?" Justice Khanna questioned. The Additional Solicitor General (ASG) argued that the Investigating Officer was not obligated to provide such materials. Justice Khanna, citing the recent judgment in the Prabir Purkayastha case, responded firmly, "No, no, no, no."

The ASG argued that supplying materials to the accused before arrest could impede the investigation. Justice Khanna then highlighted that Section 19 of the PMLA, which deals with the power of arrest, uses the term "guilty."

Section 19 of the PMLA necessitates that the investigating officer must have reasons to believe, based on the materials at hand, that the accused is guilty. Conversely, Section 45 of the PMLA, which addresses bail provisions, stipulates that the court must be prima facie convinced that the person is not guilty.

"Suppose they did not use 'not guilty' in S.19, everybody would have been arrested. Therefore, 'guilty' had to be used in S.19. And 'not guilty' in S.45," he said. "Normally IO should never arrest till he has sufficient material to show 'guilty'. That should be the standard," he added.

When the ASG argued that "suspicion" is the standard for the Investigating Officer (IO) to make an arrest, the bench seemed skeptical. "Can we alter the mandate of the statute? Are you suggesting that we interpret 'reasons to believe' as 'reasonably suspects'?" Justice Datta questioned. The ASG reiterated his stance from the previous day, stating that the Court's intervention in the arrest can only occur in cases of "no material," and the sufficiency of the materials cannot be judicially scrutinized during the investigation stage.

The ASG also clarified that the ED was filing a prosecution complaint today making AAP an accused in the case.

Case Title: Arvind Kejriwal v. Directorate of Enforcement, Crl.A. No. 2493/2024

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