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Kejriwal sent to Tihar Jail; Combative AAP says he will remain CM

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STATE TIMES NEWS

New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was sent to Tihar Jail on Monday after being remanded in judicial custody till April 15 in connection with an excise policy-linked money laundering case, even as the Aam Aadmi Party dug in its heels asserting that he will remain the CM no matter how long he is kept in prison.
Kejriwal is the fourth top AAP leader to be lodged in the Tihar Jail after his former deputy Manish Sisodia, ex-health minister Satyendar Jain and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.
On Monday, AAP sources indicated that Kejriwal’s wife Sunita, who virtually made her political debut at the INDIA bloc’s “Loktantra Bachao” rally at the Ramlila ground a day earlier, is likely to assume a “significant role” in the party in the coming days.
Arvind Kejriwal was brought to Tihar at 4 pm and lodged in Jail Number 2, a prison official said, adding that he will be kept under watch for 24 hours.
“His medical examination was conducted. His sugar level was a bit low, but medicines were given to him as per our jail doctors’ advice,” said the official.
While Sisodia and Sanjay Singh, arrested in the same case, are lodged in Jail Number 1 and 5 respectively, BRS leader K Kavitha is in Jail Number 6. Jain, who is facing a different money laundering case, is in Jail Number 7.
While sending the chief minister to judicial custody earlier in the day, a city court noted the Enforcement Directorate’s contention that his release could hamper the investigation in the case.
The chief minister was produced in the court of Special Judge Kaveri Baweja after his Enforcement Directorate custody came to an end.
“Since the investigation of the case is stated to be pending qua role of the arrestee, for unearthing the further proceeds of crime and identifying the other person who may be involved or connected, the accused is remanded to judicial custody till April 15,” the judge said.
In its remand application, the federal agency accused Kejriwal of being “evasive” and “concealing information” during his questioning after his arrest on March 21.
It said the chief minister’s statements were taken over a period of nine days and he was confronted with the statements of different witnesses, approvers and other co-accused. The plea listed “few of the glaring examples of evasive and misleading replies” given by Kejriwal.
“He (Kejriwal) stated that Vijay Nair did not report to him but to Aatishi and Saurav Bharadwaj and his interaction with Nair was limited,” it said.
The statements of Nair, however, revealed that he stayed in a cabinet minister’s bungalow and worked from the Chief Minister’s camp office, the remand application said.
The ED claimed that Kejriwal first told the agency that N D Gupta, also a Rajya Sabha MP, is a member of the AAP’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) and has knowledge of the party functioning but later called the National Treasurer “confused”.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Jasmine Shah alleged that the names of Atishi and Bharadwaj were being cited in connection with the alleged excise policy scam as the BJP thinks jailing only Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will not be enough to finish the AAP.
In a press conference on Monday, Shah asserted that Kejriwal will remain the chief minister no matter how long he is kept in jail as he has taken a constitutional oath to serve the people of Delhi.
“There is no trial yet, let alone conviction. It’s his (Kejriwal’s) constitutional right and duty because the chief minister is under the constitutional oath to serve the people of Delhi. Kejriwal will keep on being the Delhi chief minister no matter how long they keep him in jail,” he asserted.
When Vijay Nair was arrested one-and-a-half years ago, he had said that he did not report to the chief minister and that he reported to Atishi and Bharadwaj, he said. “After 1.5 years, why is the ED raising this thing when it already has a written statement?” the AAP leader said.
Meanwhile, the BJP, which has been demanding Kejriwal’s resignation, slammed the AAP for trying to raise the “bogey of victimhood” over the CM’s remand and said the order of a court here to send him to jail was based on “concrete” evidence. Party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said the Delhi government’s status in the case is becoming “progressively clearer”.
Taking a dig at the INDIA bloc rally organised Sunday at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan in support of Kejriwal and jailed former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, Trivedi said the leaders of various political parties who were facing corruption cases themselves had gathered there. “I would like to underline to those who tried to raise the bogey of victimhood that the court’s order today is based on concrete evidence,” he told the press conference. At the rally on Sunday, Sunita Kejriwal called her husband a “lion” who won’t stay behind bars for long and read out her husband’s message announcing six guarantees ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, which include free electricity for poor and full statehood for Delhi. The Aam Aadmi Party national convener, who was arrested on March 21 and subsequently remanded to the ED custody by a Delhi court, faces allegations of direct involvement in a conspiracy related to the formulation of the excise policy favouring specific individuals. Kejriwal’s petition challenging his arrest is scheduled to be heard by the high court on April 3. The excise case pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in formulating and executing the Delhi government’s now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22. Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the liquor policy. Subsequently, the ED registered a case under the PMLA. Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court asked the Enforcement Directorate to submit its note to the special judge, dealing with the excise policy-linked money laundering case on the issue of CM Kejriwal “passing orders” while in custody. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora said the special judge is directed to pass an order, if required, in accordance with law. It clarified that it has not commented on the locus standi of the petitioner. The court disposed of a public interest litigation that sought directions to prevent Kejriwal from issuing orders in his capacity as the chief minister while in ED custody, contending that it was against the legal framework.

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