Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is the “kingpin” and “key conspirator” in the excise money laundering case, Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a Delhi court on Friday. The Court remanded Kejriwal in the custody of ED till March 28 after his late-night arrest on Thursday.

The ED had sought 10-day custody but Special PMLA Court of Judge Kaveri Baweja said Kejriwal will be produced before the court on March 28 at 2 pm. During the hearing, the ED claimed to have uncovered a money trail that showed that AAP allegedly received a bribe of ₹100 crore from what the agency claimed “South Group”. He demanded ₹100 crore from some accused from the ‘South Group’ for contesting the Punjab and Goa elections in 2022, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, appearing for the agency, told the court.

Video Credit: ANI
The charges

The money trail, Raju charged, showed ₹45 crore “kickback” used in the Goa elections was routed from four hawala routes. The ASG stated the statements of the accused and witnesses have been corroborated through Call Detail Records (CDR).

The ED is also banking on an accused – Srinivasulu Reddy, YSR Congress Party Lok Sabha MP and businessman who has turned approver in the case and recorded his statement before a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC on July 17, last year – to back its allegations against Kejriwal. In that Reddy said to have accepted he met Delhi CM on March 16 after learning from newspaper advertisements on the new excise policy. Kejriwal, claimed Reddy, told him that everyone was welcome to do business in Delhi.

When Reddy met BRS leader K Kavitha, daughter of former Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao, in the same month of 2021, she is said to have told him that Kejriwal called her and asked for ₹100 crore. Reddy claimed Kavitha, who was later arrested by the ED, told him to arrange ₹50 crore.

His son Raghav Magunta too gave a statement to the agency, seconding its version that ₹25 crore bribe was allegedly paid to Abhishek Boinpally, and Gorantla Buchibabu – both part of the South Group.

The ED also alleged that proceeds of crime went beyond the ₹100 crore bribe received by AAP as it included the profits made by the bribe payers - it was over ₹600 crore.

The ED officials claimed Kejriwal was aware of the formulation of the now scrapped Delhi excise policy 2021-22 though the Delhi government had formed a Group of Ministers headed by former Deputy CM Manish Sisodia which had ignored an expert committee recommendation against cartilisation of the liquor trade in the national capital.

The ED suspected that exceptionally high-profit margin of 12 per cent for wholesalers and nearly 185 per cent for retailers offered by the Delhi liquor policy was a route for illegal gratification. Sisodia was a named accused in the case and is languishing behind the bars for months now.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, told the court this is the first time in the history of India that a sitting Chief Minister has been arrested. “Please don’t look at remand as a routine exercise... it requires application of significant judicial mind... larger issues of democracy involved,” Singhvi said.

The AAP leader’s lawyer decided to withdraw the application from the Supreme Court and contest arrest and seek bail from the trial court itself. This was after the Apex court denied bail to Kavitha in the same case. She is in ED’s custody till Saturday after her arrest on March 15.