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'Summons illegal but ready to answer': Kejriwal agrees to appear before ED virtually

The ED is examining Kejriwal's response, but sources indicate that it may not allow the request for appearing through digital mode and is likely to issue a ninth summons. This comes even as the AAP claimed that the agency's intention is to arrest the Chief Minister in the 'middle of the Lok Sabha polls.'
Last Updated 04 March 2024, 03:42 IST

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday did not appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the eighth time in the Delhi excise policy case though he expressed readiness to present himself before investigators through video-conferencing after March 12.

The ED is examining Kejriwal's response, but sources indicate that it may not allow the request for appearing through digital mode and is likely to issue a ninth summons. This comes even as the AAP claimed that the agency's intention is to arrest the Chief Minister in the "middle of the Lok Sabha polls." The Lok Sabha election schedule is likely to be announced soon.

Sources said Kejriwal has indicated to the ED his willingness to appear before the agency after March 12 through video-conferencing. The AAP has suggested that the agency could live stream the interrogation, alleging that their intention is not to investigate but to harass the Opposition.

Senior BJP MP Manoj Tiwari criticised Kejriwal, stating that no further leniency should be extended to him. Tiwari expressed his disapproval, saying, "What kind of message is he (Kejriwal) sending to the children of Delhi? I firmly believe that he should not be given any more concessions. It is time to deal with him strictly."

Delhi Minister and senior AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj stated that several BJP ministers and spokespersons were claiming that Kejriwal is attempting to evade providing answers, but the AAP has consistently maintained that the issue revolves around his potential arrest.

"Now, the CM has found a middle path. He has stated that once the Budget session concludes, he will provide answers to all questions via video conferencing," Bharadwaj said.

The AAP chief was summoned on November 2 and December 21 in 2023, and on January 3, January 18, February 2, 17, and 26 this year. However, he refused to appear before it, claiming that the ED summons were illegal.

Earlier, the ED rejected Kejriwal's contention that the matter of his appearance is sub-judice before a local court. The agency insisted that it has the right to summon him, arguing that the case is about his non-appearance and not about the validity of the summons issued to him.

In his letters to the ED, Kejriwal has previously asserted that the agency's summons were not in accordance with the law and were sent for "extraneous considerations" at the behest of the ruling BJP to generate "sensational news" leading up to the Lok Sabha elections.

Although not explicitly named as an accused in the chargesheet, Kejriwal's name has been mentioned on multiple occasions. The ED claimed that the accused were in contact with the Chief Minister regarding the preparation of the excise policy.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, among others, were arrested in this case by the ED.

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(Published 04 March 2024, 03:42 IST)

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