Delhi Excise Policy Controversy: In a twist of political intrigue, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has accused the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of being part of a “political conspiracy” and targeting opposition leaders. Delhi’s Chief Minister and AAP’s national convener, Arvind Kejriwal, has refused to comply with the ED’s summons regarding the Delhi excise policy-linked case. Kejriwal has firmly labelled the notice as “illegal and politically motivated,” demanding its withdrawal. The ED had summoned him for questioning in connection with an alleged money laundering case related to the excise policy scam. The planned statement recording at the ED’s Delhi office was scheduled for 11 a.m. on Thursday.
Kejriwal’s Stand: Defying the Summons
Despite the ED’s summons, Arvind Kejriwal chose not to appear before the agency for questioning. Instead, he penned a letter to the ED, rebuking the notice as “illegal and politically motivated.” Kejriwal, in his letter, questioned the nature of the summons, emphasizing that it did not specify whether he was being summoned as an individual or in his official capacity as the Chief Minister of Delhi or the National Convenor of AAP. He described the notice as a “fishing and roving inquiry,” insinuating that it lacked clarity and purpose.
The Excise Policy Controversy
The central probe agencies, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED have been investigating the Delhi government’s now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22. Allegations suggest that this policy favored particular liquor dealers. The AAP vehemently denies these claims, calling them baseless. The controversy surrounding this policy has been ongoing, leading to a high-stakes political showdown.
Kejriwal’s Past Encounter with the CBI
Arvind Kejriwal had previously faced questioning by the CBI in April, specifically regarding the alleged liquor scam. During that nine-hour-long interrogation, he answered a barrage of 56 questions. Kejriwal adamantly dismissed the entire case as “fabricated” and an attempt to undermine the AAP’s credibility.
Manish Sisodia and the Money Laundering Case
In the same excise policy case, the former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, was arrested by the CBI in February. Subsequently, the ED arrested Sisodia in connection with a money laundering case stemming from the CBI’s FIR. Recently, the Supreme Court denied Sisodia’s bail plea, providing further impetus to the ED’s investigation.
The Earnings and Allegations of Corruption
A significant aspect of the case revolves around the alleged proceeds of crime, totaling ₹338 crore, earned by private parties who obtained liquor licenses under the now-defunct policy. These earnings have become a focal point of the investigation. The ED claims these funds are connected to criminal activities.
Political Blame Game
In response to the unfolding events, the political blame game has intensified. The AAP and Kejriwal’s supporters maintain that the summons and subsequent arrests are politically motivated. They argue that the central government, particularly the BJP, seeks to silence opposition voices through such legal actions. The recent denial of bail for Manish Sisodia has fueled these allegations.
In contrast, the BJP has vehemently rejected claims of political bias. They cite the Supreme Court’s decision to deny bail to Manish Sisodia as evidence of the seriousness of the charges. Shehzad Poonawalla, a BJP spokesperson, challenged Kejriwal’s assertion of political motivation, highlighting that even the Congress has accused the Kejriwal government of corruption. The BJP argues this is a legal matter, not a political conspiracy.
Protest and Outcry
The AAP and its leaders have not remained passive in the face of these challenges. They have organized protests and voiced their concerns. Saurabh Bharadwaj, a Delhi minister from the AAP, criticized the ED’s actions, alleging a lack of adherence to the rule of law. He compared the ED’s actions to the colonial era when police required a warrant to search individuals. According to Bharadwaj, the ED’s actions have raised concerns about excessive authority without court oversight.
Awaiting Kejriwal’s Fate
As the political tussle continues, Arvind Kejriwal’s fate remains uncertain. The ED, empowered to issue fresh summons, could potentially issue a non-bailable warrant if Kejriwal fails to comply with repeated subpoenas. Kejriwal, conversely, can request pre-arrest bail and contest the summons in court. The following steps in this contentious case will undoubtedly draw significant attention and impact the political landscape.
The ongoing investigation into the Delhi excise policy case has taken a dramatic turn, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at the centre of the storm. Accusations of corruption, money laundering, and political vendettas are casting a long shadow over this case. As the legal battle unfolds, the political landscape of Delhi is poised for a turbulent ride, and the nation watches with bated breath to see how this story continues to develop.