Delhi HC lists for Sept 9 Kejriwal's plea against ED summons in excise 'scam'

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday listed for hearing on September 9 Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's petition challenging the summonses issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with its probe into an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

A bench headed by Justice Prathiba M Singh granted four more weeks to the AAP leader to file a rejoinder to the reply submitted by the ED.

The senior counsel, appearing for Kejriwal, sought more time to file the rejoinder saying there are certain changes in the circumstances and they have not been given a proper legal interview, a plea for which is pending in the high court.

"Let the rejoinder be filed in four weeks," the bench, also comprising Justice Amit Sharma, said.

The counsel for the ED had earlier said the petition against the summonses was infructuous after Kejriwal's arrest by the agency on March 21 in the money laundering case following the high court's refusal to grant him interim protection from coercive action.

On April 22, the court had given two weeks' time to Kejriwal to file his rejoinder. On the next date of hearing in May, the court allowed him four weeks more to place his stand on record.

The AAP national convenor had approached the high court in the wake of the ninth summons issued by the ED asking him to appear before it on March 21. The high court bench had on March 20 asked the ED to file its reply with respect to the maintainability of the petition.

The next day, it asked the ED to also respond to Kejriwal's plea seeking protection from arrest, saying "at this stage" it was not inclined to grant him any interim relief. Kejriwal was arrested by the ED later that evening.

On June 20, the trial court granted bail to Kejriwal in the money laundering case but on June 25, the high court stayed the bail order following a challenge mounted by the ED.

On June 26, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the Delhi chief minister in the excise policy related corruption case.

The ED has alleged that other accused in the case were in touch with Kejriwal for formulating the now-scrapped excise policy that resulted in undue benefits to them and kickbacks to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

In his petition, Kejriwal has also challenged the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) with respect to arrest, questioning and grant of bail.

He has raised several issues, including whether a political party is covered under the anti-money laundering law. It alleged that "arbitrary procedure" under PMLA was being used to create a non-level playing field for the general elections to "skew the electoral process in the favour of the ruling party at the Centre".

Stating the petitioner is a "vocal critic" of the ruling party and a partner of the opposition INDIA bloc, the plea claimed that the ED, being under control of the Union government, has been "weaponised".

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