Kejriwal sent to judicial custody in Tihar till April 15

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Kejriwal sent to judicial custody in Tihar till April 15

In relation to the now-canceled 2021–22 excise policy, a Delhi court on Monday ordered Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to judicial jail till April 15. This makes him the fourth well-known Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lawmaker to be imprisoned in Tihar Jail, only three weeks before general elections.

The Enforcement Directorate's (ED) interrogation and the role of Vijay Nair—a pivotal character in the case who is accused of being instrumental in facilitating connections and allegedly illegal activities within the liquor industry—as well as whether or not he reported to Delhi ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj—were also clarified by the arguments made before special judge Kaveri Baweja.

The judge observed ED’s allegation that Kejriwal’s release could impair the probe as it made a plea to place Kejriwal under 15 days of judicial detention but said that it may seek extra custodial interrogation later.

The court ordered that the accused who is above mentioned be placed in judicial custody until April 15, 2024, citing the fact that the investigation into the arrestee's role in the case is still ongoing and that it is intended to uncover additional proceeds of crime and identify any other individuals who may be connected to or involved in the above.

The AAP claimed that Kejriwal's detention and incarceration were a result of a plot by the BJP and the ED to hinder the party's performance in the next general elections.

On Monday night, the CM was transferred to ward No. 4 of Tihar's cell No. 2. He was permitted to bring a religious necklace and multiple books, including the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, and How Prime Ministers Decide by Neerja Chowdhury, according to prison officials. He might also eat meals prepared at home.

Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh, and Satyender Jain, the leaders of the AAP, are presently incarcerated in numbers 1, 7, and 5, respectively.

After the Delhi High Court rejected Kejriwal's motion for temporary protection from arrest, the ED detained him on March 21. This was a shocking development that threw the Capital's politics into disarray and intensified the current battle between the Union government and the AAP. Kejriwal has issued two orders from jail, prompting the BJP to denounce him, but the party has reaffirmed that he would remain chief minister.

Nair oversaw the AAP's media and communications division, and the ED had previously claimed that he had strong ties to Kejriwal. However, in its appeal, the ED stated that when Kejriwal was questioned about his interactions with Nair, the AAP chief responded that Nair reported to other party leaders rather than to him.

When questioned about how much he interacted with and reported to Vijay Nair, the arrestee replied that Nair reported to Aatishi Marlena and Saurav Bharadwaj instead of to him, and that their interactions were minimal, according to the ED application.

In Delhi's cabinet, Atishi and Bharadwaj currently oversee a number of responsibilities.

Representing the agency, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju stated that evidence refuted this, pointing to Nair's close relationship with Kejriwal, his lodging in a cabinet official's residence, and his work from the camp office of the chief minister.

According to Nair's own admissions, he worked out of the cabinet minister's camp office while living in a home. The arrestee was also asked to explain why he would work from his camp office, which is in any case intended for the chief minister of Delhi's duties and not for the party, while he was reporting to other AAP leaders. According to ED's plea, Kejriwal avoided responding to this by claiming ignorance about the individuals employed at the CM camp office.

It also argued that despite Nair's prominent position in the AAP and the party profiting from these meetings, especially in the Goa elections campaign, evidence of his meetings with numerous liquor business stakeholders was given, and Kejriwal claimed he was unaware of these people.

Additionally, he was shown other WhatsApp conversations that demonstrated Nair's involvement. Nair was the arrestee's close friend and coworker. The arrestee has not provided an explanation for his doubts about the veracity of the digital evidence that was presented to him. Additionally, the arrestee withheld the passwords from his digital devices, hindering the gathering of evidence and demonstrating his lack of cooperation, according to the ED.

The agency claimed to have evidence of hawala transfers totaling about ₹45 crore, witness statements, and WhatsApp conversations indicating the AAP's involvement; nevertheless, Kejriwal maintained his innocence despite the AAP benefiting from the funds. According to the ED, AAP misused ₹45 crore during the 2022 Goa assembly elections.

The ED claims that Kejriwal gave false testimony about the AAP's internal operations and rejected party leaders' comments as "confused" when they were presented with inconsistencies, particularly in regards to designating an election in-charge for the assembly elections in Goa in 2022.

Nair was taken into jail by the courts on November 13, 2022.

In its initial charge sheet, which was submitted in January 2023, the ED contended that Nair was the primary AAP member who masterminded the kickback scheme and accepted ₹100 crore from the “South Group,” which was purportedly made up of Benoy Babu, Raghav Magunta, P Sarath Reddy, K Kavitha, and other BRS lawmakers.

In addition, it claimed that Nair helped the "South Group" get ownership interests in other wholesale companies in return for the ostensible kickbacks, and that he subsequently steered large manufacturers toward them in an effort to recoup the kickbacks.

The ED further claimed that Nair was personally and intentionally involved in operations pertaining to ₹192.8 crore in proceeds of crime, which were obtained under the pretense of profits made by Indo Spirits, a special purpose company established to recover bribes paid by the South Group. The charge sheet quoted businessman Sameer Mahendru, a co-accused, who claimed that Nair was referred to as "his boy" by Kejriwal.

Kejriwal was initially brought before the court on March 22 following his detention, and he was given ED custody for six days. On March 28, he was brought before the court once more, this time accusing the ED of operating a racket in the guise of looking into the issue and connecting electoral bond payments to the BJP to alleged corruption.

I possess proof that a racket is in operation. Sarath Chandra Reddy contributed more than ₹55 crore to the BJP. A financial trail is created. He stated on March 28 that following his arrest (in the excise scam case), he gave this money to the BJP.

November 2022 saw the arrest of Aurobindo Pharma director Reddy, a businessman from Hyderabad. Two weeks ago, the electoral bond data came to light, revealing that Aurobindo Pharma had given ₹50 crore to the BJP in November 2023 via affiliates. The BJP cashed bonds that the corporation had bought for ₹4.5 crore in 2022.

The AAP lashed out at the ED and BJP.

The BJP and ED have been plotting against Arvind Kejriwal from the start. All they wanted was to lock Arvind Kejriwal up and prevent him from running for the next Lok Sabha election. Their goal was to make sure the Aam Aadmi Party couldn't win any more seats in the election. Senior AAP leader Jasmine Shah stated at a news conference that this is the reason Arvind Kejriwal was jailed while the election model code of conduct was in effect.

In addition, he