Delhi Liquor Policy | Supreme Court issues notice to ED in Kejriwal’s plea challenging his arrest

The Bench will hear Kejriwal’s plea in the last week of April; Enforcement Directorate to file response a week before that

Today, a Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta decided to hear Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the last week of April 2024. The Bench held that this was the earliest available date to hear the Chief Minister’s plea. Kejriwal was arrested by the ED on 22 March 2024 for his alleged involvement in the Delhi Liquor Policy scam, making him the first sitting Chief Minister to be arrested.

Bench denies request for early listing

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, requested an earlier hearing date three days from today, on 19 April 2024. He claimed that his submissions to justify the early listing would “shock the conscience” of the Bench. Singhvi began that Kejriwal’s arrest constituted an “unusual matter.” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta interjected stating that the ED needed time to file their replies. Justice Khanna agreed, stating that issuing a notice and setting a later date for hearing were necessary steps. Singhvi stated that he did not oppose the issuance of a notice but was merely requesting an expedited hearing date.

Singhvi argued that the Central Bureau of Investigation and the ED had filed a total of eight chargesheets in the matter, but that Kejriwal was not named in any of them. Additionally, he pointed out that out of the 15 statements recorded during the investigation, none implicated Kejriwal. At this juncture, Justice Khanna interrupted Singhvi, advising him to reserve his substantive arguments for the next scheduled day of hearing.

The Bench decided to hear the case in the week commencing on 29 April 2024. After dictating the order, Justice Khanna pointed out that the Bench had refrained from giving such early dates to anyone else. The Bench instructed the ED to submit its replies by 24 April 2024.

Back to the Supreme Court 

Following his arrest, Kejriwal first approached the Supreme Court on 22 March 2024. At that time, Singhvi sought an urgent hearing before  Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud’s court. 

Considering that a Special Bench comprising Justices Khanna, M.M. Sundresh, and Bela Trivedi were already hearing a case related to the Delhi liquor policy involving BRS leader K. Kavitha, CJI Chandrachud directed Singhvi to mention the case before that bench. By the time Singhvi reached Justice Khanna’s court, the Bench had concluded its proceedings for the day. Nevertheless, Justice Khanna assured Singhvi that Kejriwal’s plea would be heard later that day. Subsequently, Kejriwal chose to withdraw the petition and fight his battle at Rouse Avenue Magistrate Court where he was scheduled to appear that afternoon.

The Rouse Avenue Court directed Kejriwal to remain in ED custody. A day after his arrest, Kejriwal approached the Delhi High Court challenging his arrest. On 10 April, the Delhi High Court dismissed his petition. Consequently, Kejriwal appealed this decision at the Supreme Court through a Special Leave Petition. 

On 15 April, the Rouse Avenue Court extended his judicial custody until 23 April.