Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was on Thursday arrested from his residence by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) after the Supreme Court refused to grant him relief against the agency’s coercive action against him in the Delhi excise money laundering case.

A team of ED landed at the CM’s residence in the evening when Kejriwal lost the first legal battle of seeking protection from the Delhi High Court against the ED’s move, which had issued nine summons to him seeking his presence in the Delhi excise case. Kejriwal skipped each summons because they were illegal and meant to arrest him for stopping the AAP leader from electioneering in the Lok Sabha polls.

Tight security at Arvind Kejriwal’s residence after ED team’s arrival
Video Credit: ANI

Against that, the AAP leader moved the Supreme Court late in the evening seeking an urgent hearing against the Delhi High Court’s double bench refusing to give him relief in liquorgate. “We have heard both sides, and we are not inclined at this stage (to grant protection). The respondent is at liberty to file reply,” a High Court bench of Justices Suresh Kumar Kait and Manoj Jain said while posting Kejriwal’s application challenging summons issued by the ED for hearing on Friday.

Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the ED, said, “It is already over. Time is over. He is not attending.” Kejriwal had moved the petition, stating that he was willing to join the probe, but the court should direct the ED not to arrest him since the summons were illegal.

The Apex Court, too, did not intervene against the Delhi High Court order.

After arresting Kejriwal, the sleuths took him to the ED office for further questioning on the irregularities committed in the excise policy for 2021-22, which has since been scrapped. He will be produced before the Special PMLA court here on Friday.

Preventive measure

As the news of ED landing Kejriwal’s house spread, AAP leaders and supporters hit the streets to protest against the ED move. Kejriwal Jindabad slogans filled the air outside his residence. The police and central armed police force deployment around the Delhi CM was also increased to ensure the situation did not worsen.

Protestors were taken into custody by the police as a preventive measure.

Another Minister, Atishi, hit out at the central government and stated, “It is clear that the ED and their masters, the BJP, do not respect the courts. Had this been the case, they would not have come to raid the residence of Arvind Kejriwal today itself... This is a political conspiracy, and they are here to arrest Arvind Kejriwal...”

Parallely, AAP called an emergency meeting of senior leaders to devise a strategy for handling the leadership issue following the Delhi CM’s arrest.

Kejriwal’s name also figured multiple times in the prosecution complaint filed by the ED. The agency has alleged that the other accused were in touch with Kejriwal to formulate the excise policy that resulted in undue benefits for them, in return for which they paid kickbacks to the AAP. ED had earlier alleged that a Rs 100 crore bribe was given to AAP leaders by the South Lobby, which was used to fund the election in Goa.

The agency has arrested former Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and AAP MP Sanjay Singh. Both are now in judicial custody.

Kejriwal’s arrest, which the AAP anticipated, triggered a reaction from the opposition parties. Congress questioned the timing of his arrest and said that the BJP would pay a price for it.