ED names Kejriwal, AAP as accused in excise policy scam

| | New Delhi
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ED names Kejriwal, AAP as accused in excise policy scam

Saturday, 18 May 2024 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi

For the first in the country’s jurisprudence, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has named Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as well as its convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as an accused in the supplementary charge sheet filed in a money laundering case linked to the alleged excise scam.

This is the first time that a recognized national political party has been mentioned as an accused in a corruption case. Until now, no political party has been implicated under India’s anti-money laundering laws, although several NGOs and other organisations have been scrutinised by the ED. This is also the first time that Kejriwal, who was arrested on March 21 and granted 21-day interim bail by the Supreme Court last week, has been mentioned as an accused in the ED’s chargesheet. ED has claimed to have established a money trail linked to Kejriwal.

 In a supplementary chargesheet filed in the Rouse Avenue court before special judge Kaveri Baweja in the alleged liquor policy scam, the ED has named the Aam Aadmi Party - a national political party - and its national convenor, Arvind Kejriwal, who is out on interim bail in the case. Special Judge Kaveri Baweja is likely to take up the chargesheet, spanning 200 pages apart from the annexure, for cognisance in the coming days. This is the eighth charge sheet filed by the ED in this case in which it has arrested 18 people so far. Last week, a similar complaint was filed by the agency against BRS leader and former Telangana chief minister Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter K Kavitha and four others.

The development comes at a time when the AAP finds itself embroiled in a controversy surrounding its Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal, who has alleged that she was slapped and kicked by Mr Kejriwal’s aide Bibhav Kumar at the chief minister’s residence on Monday, when she was waiting to meet the AAP chief.

Official sources said a voluminous prosecution complaint has been filed before a special court here. The accused have been sought to be charged under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the sources said.

According to ED, Section 70 of the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) deals with offences by companies. The provision states that “where a person committing a contravention of any of the provisions of this Act or any rule, direction or order made thereunder in a company, every person who, at the time the contravention was committed, was in charge of and was responsible to the company, for the conduct of the business of the company as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the contravention and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly”.

While a political party is not a ‘company’ incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013, the provision has a crucial explanation that could bring a political party under the ambit of the anti-money laundering law.

 The ED had earlier stated that AAP, being a political party, is defined as an association or a body of individual citizens of India under the Representation of the People Act, and hence it can be categorised as a “company” as contemplated under section 70 of the PMLA.

As Arvind Kejriwal was “in-charge of and responsible” for the said company , AAP during the time of offence, he and his party “shall be deemed guilty” of offences mentioned under the anti-money laundering law and liable to be prosecuted and punished, it had said.

Earlier, Additional Solicitor General (ASG), SV Raju informed this Supreme Court during the hearing in AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest by the ED, that Kejriwal and his party has been made accused in the excise policy case. After the ED’s argument, the Supreme Court on Friday reserved its verdict in Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the Delhi Excise Policy case.

The CM was earlier called the “kingpin and key conspirator” of the Delhi excise “scam” by the ED. It was alleged that he acted in collusion with Delhi government minister, AAP leaders and others. Additional Solicitor General S V Raju told the Supreme Court on Thursday that Kejriwal played a key role in the formulation of the now-scrapped excise policy.

Reacting to the ED’s action, the AAP said the ED is functioning like a political wing of the BJP. Its intention from the very beginning of this fake investigation was to frame AAP, arrest all it's top leaders and crush the party. “ED's chargesheet framing AAP and Kejriwal is part of this grand political conspiracy. Now all properties and bank accounts of Kejriwal and AAP will be seized,” it said.

 

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