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Court extends ED custody of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal till April 1


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NEW DELHI: A court here on Thursday extended the Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal till April 1 in the excise policy case.

The agency had sought seven-day custody of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener but the court said he has to be produced before the court on April 1 at 11 am.

The ED had produced Kejriwal before Rouse Avenue court Special Judge Kaveri Baweja as his current custody was ending on Thursday.

The ED said in its fresh remand plea that during his custodial interrogation, his statements were recorded on five days and that he was "giving evasive replies" and not disclosing passwords of his digital devices.

It said the statements of three other persons have also been recorded during the remand.

It said the statement of one of the AAP candidates in the 2022 Goa elections was also recorded during Kejriwal's ED custody.

It revealed that the candidate did not have any money and his election expenditure was "taken care of by the AAP Office Delhi only through their associates", The plea said that during the custody, data from the mobile phone of the chief minister's wife have been extracted and were being analysed.

"However, data from other four digital devices seized during the search at Kejriwal's premises on March 21 (belonging to Kejriwal) are yet to be extracted as the arrestee (Kejriwal) has sought time in providing password and login credentials after consulting with his lawyers," it said.

The application said the movable and immovable property details, income tax returns (ITRs), and other financial details sought from Kejriwal were yet to be provided by the chief minister, or his family members.

The federal probe agency said it had sought the details regarding the appointments made with the chief minister in the online portal in his office.

It said the during the interrogation, summonses were issued to senior excise officials in Punjab who were "involved in the arm-twisting of certain (liquor) wholesalers of Delhi."

The agency said that when the demand for bribes was not fulfilled, these officials either shut down their factories or did not allow the wholesalers to despatch their goods to Punjab.

The plea said the officials concerned sought time on the summonses, citing the hooch tragedy in Sangrur.

"The arrestee needs to be interrogated further in the wake of these reasons or findings. Hence, it is imperative in the interest of investigation that seven days' further custodial remand of Arvind Kejriwal may be granted to the Directorate of Enforcement," the plea said.

Kejriwal on Thursday himself made submissions in Rouse Avenue court during the hearing in the excise policy case and said a smokescreen of the AAP being corrupt has been created before the nation. He made the submissions in Hindi after taking permission from the court despite his lawyers being present.

In his submissions, Kejriwal said, "I am named by four witnesses in the excise policy case. Are four statements enough to arrest a sitting CM?"

He also alleged that Sarath Chandra Reddy donated Rs 55 crore to the BJP.

"I have evidence of this. Money trail is established as he donated the funds after being arrested," the chief minister said.

Reddy is the director of Aurobindo Pharma Limited and one of the co-accused-turned-approvers in the case.

A smokescreen of the AAP being corrupt has been created in front of the nation, Kejriwal said and added that he is ready to face ED probe.

The AAP national convener was arrested by the agency in the case on March 21, and subsequently, he was sent to remand till March 28 by the court.

As he was being taken to the courtroom for the hearing in the case, Kejriwal told reporters that "this is a political conspiracy".

AAP ministers Atishi, Gopal Rai and Saurabh Bharadwaj along with the chief minister's wife Sunita Kejriwal were inside the court.

"This is a political conspiracy. The people will give an answer," Kejriwal said.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)