National Political Desk
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal did not appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday, despite being summoned for questioning in connection with the Delhi excise policy scam case. This was the fourth summons issued by the ED to Kejriwal, who has been accused of allowing cartelisation and corruption in the liquor trade in the national capital.
The ED had asked Kejriwal to appear before it on January 20, after he failed to respond to the previous three summons issued on December 15, December 29, and January 6. The ED had also warned him of legal action if he did not cooperate with the investigation. However, Kejriwal did not comply with the summons and instead left for Goa on Wednesday, where he is campaigning for the upcoming assembly elections.
The ED case against Kejriwal is based on the FIR filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in August 2022, following a recommendation by the Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. The CBI had registered a case of criminal conspiracy, cheating, and corruption against Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia, along with some liquor traders and middlemen, for their alleged role in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi excise policy for 2021-221.
The CBI had alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy, which came into effect on November 17, 2021, but was later scrapped, allowed certain liquor dealers to form a cartel and pay bribes to the AAP leaders for getting licenses and concessions. The CBI had claimed that the policy caused a loss of Rs 100 crore to the exchequer and violated the Delhi Excise Act, 2009.
The ED, which registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in September 2022, had alleged that the proceeds of crime generated from the scam were laundered through various channels and used for political purposes. The ED had also claimed that it had evidence of money transfers and transactions between the accused persons and the AAP leaders.
The AAP, however, has denied any wrongdoing and has termed the ED summons as a political vendetta by the BJP-led central government. The AAP has alleged that the ED and the CBI are being misused to harass and intimidate the opposition leaders ahead of the elections in five states, including Goa, where the AAP is contesting.
The Delhi excise policy scam case is one of the several cases that the ED and the CBI have filed against Kejriwal and his associates in recent years. Some of the other cases include the Delhi Jal Board scam, the Delhi Transport Corporation scam, the Delhi Health Mission scam, and the Delhi CCTV scam.