The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to give interim relief to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal against his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate to probe money laundering in the excise case.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma issued notice on Kejriwal petition challenging his arrest on March 21, asking the ED to file its reply before April 2.

Earlier the court had also not entertained the AAP convenor’s plea that the nine summons issued to him were illegal, after which the agency arrested him from his official residence late in the night which has sparked off a political outrage with other opposition leaders also coming out in favour of him.

The judge clarified in the order no adjournment shall be granted in the case which would be taken up for final disposal on April 3. “This Court deems it appropriate to issue notice of the main writ petition as well as application for grant of interim relief, returnable on 03.04.2024,” Justice Sharma ordered.

“The Directorate of Enforcement will ensure that replies are filed to the main petition as well as the application for interim release of the petitioner by April 2, 2024 and copies of the same are provided in digitised form as well as hard copy to the learned counsel for the petitioner,” the court further stated.

Appearing for Kejriwal, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi argued the arrest of a sitting chief minister on the eve of polls was in contradiction of the basic structure of the Constitution. “Object of the arrest was not to find material but to disable me and my party. My prayer is, release me now,” he argued.

ED’s counsel, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, sought time from the court on the grounds that the agency needs time to go through the “bulky” petition served upon them only on Tuesday, and give its stand on record.

The ED is likely to seek more custody of Kejriwal which ends on Thursday when the Delhi CM appears in Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court.