ED like Alice in Wonderland: Team Arvind Kejriwal on 'perverse bail order' claim

The ED labelled the trial court's decision 'perverse'. Arvind Kejriwal's lawyer countered by saying like Alice in Wonderland, ED has its own understanding of perversity.
ED like Alice in Wonderland: Team Arvind Kejriwal on 'perverse bail order' claim
Jaano Junction

In a big setback for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi High Court on Friday paused a lower court's order granting him bail in a money laundering case linked to the now scrapped excise policy. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had challenged the trial court's bail order.

A vacation bench of Justices Sudhir Kumar Jain and Ravinder Dudeja paused the trial court's proceedings. The Delhi Chief Minister will now remain in jail until the High Court hears the matter.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju, representing the ED, told the High Court that he was not given the "full opportunity" to argue his case.

"There can't be a more perverse order than this. Without going through documents filed by both sides, without giving us an opportunity, the matter is decided," he said.

He argued that he was not given sufficient time to argue the case or to file written submissions, alleging that the judge was in a hurry to conduct the hearing and hurriedly disposed of the case. He said it was on record that the judge called the documents submitted "bulky" and refused to go through them.

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ED like Alice in Wonderland: Team Arvind Kejriwal on 'perverse bail order' claim

"A judge who admits that [they] haven't read the papers and grants bail, there cannot be greater perversity than this. This order has to go on this finding alone," Raju argued.

Citing Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Raju urged the court to stay the bail order.

He expressed strong objections to the trial court’s handling of the case, claiming that it didn't take note of the submissions made by the ED.

"I am shocked that despite submitting the written note, the court is saying ED hasn't been able to prove its case. You can decide against me, but don't give wrong facts," Raju said, reading from the trial court’s judgment.

Detailing the ED's evidence against Kejriwal, the ASG argued that the trial court dismissed significant findings. "We have shown all this to show that he had a role in the demand for Rs 100 crore. Yet the judge says no direct evidence. Direct evidence is in the form of a statement. There is corroboration also," he explained.

Raju criticised the trial court’s rationale for granting bail. "Holding a constitutional chair is a ground for bail? That means every minister will be granted bail. You are a Chief Minister, so you will be granted bail. Unheard of, there cannot be anything more perverse than this," he said.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, said the approach of the ED was deplorable. Countering ASG Raju's arguments, Singhvi said, "He (ASG) says the order is perverse and therefore limits to one small aspect. Like Alice in Wonderland, ED has its own understanding of perversity."

Singhvi said the High Court and Supreme Court were dealing with the issue of legality of the arrest, not the bail.

"The Supreme Court has reserved its order on the legality of the arrest... The law is very clear on the grant of bail and cancellation/reversal of bail is different," he further said.

"For ED, Article 21 is non-existent. The liberty of a person is very, very low in the eyes of the ED, if it exists at all," he further said.

Singhvi also pointed out how accused Sarath Reddy, the director of Aurobindo Pharma, is out on bail due to back pain. "There are nine statements not implicating Kejriwal. After these statements, he implicates me, and then he gets bail due to back pain without any objection," the senior lawyer said.

Senior advocate Vikram Chaudhary also countered ASG Raju, saying ED's stand is my way or the highway.

"All these submissions are not correct. They argued at length. Seven hours of arguments are not enough? Someone should gracefully accept something," Chaudhary said.

Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 21 in dramatic scenes just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. In May, he was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court in view of general elections. He surrendered on June 2.

Source: India Today

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