Arvind Kejriwal, K Kavitha To Stay In Jail, Custody Extended By 14 Days

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (File).

New Delhi:

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Telangana lawmaker K Kavitha – opposition politicians arrested last month – weeks before the start of the Lok Sabha election – in the alleged liquor policy scam – have been sent to extended judicial custody for 14 days. The Aam Aadmi Party boss and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader – both in Delhi’s Tihar Jail – will be produced in court next on May 7.

The Delhi Chief Minister has a plea pending in the Supreme Court, in which he has challenged his arrest March 21 by the Enforcement Directorate on money laundering charges. The court heard the matter on April 15, but denied Mr Kejriwal immediate relief pending a reply from the federal agency.

Days earlier the Delhi High Court rejected the same plea, noting the ED had filed enough material to back its claim – that Mr Kejriwal was allegedly involved in forming the now-scrapped policy and demanding bribes of Rs 100 crore used to fund the AAP’s Punjab and Goa election campaigns.

In a related matter earlier today, Mr Kejriwal – a Type 2 diabetes patient – received his first shot of insulin in (reportedly) 32 days. The injection was administered after his blood sugar levels spiked to an alarmingly high 320 mg/dl. Mr Kejriwal had moved the court last week and this asking for insulin injections, but the plea had been opposed by the ED, which claimed the Chief Minister had deliberately eaten high sugar food items to elevate glucose levels and apply for medical bail.

On Monday a Delhi court directed a panel of specialists from the centre-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences to assess the Chief Minister’s condition and establish if insulin is, in fact, needed.

The AAP and Mr Kejriwal have denied all charges, and have counter-accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “political vendetta” against a rival, and a member of the Congress-led INDIA opposition bloc, before the general election. The AAP and the opposition have repeatedly claimed federal investigation agencies – such as the Enforcement Directorate – target opposition leaders on instructions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The centre has denied this claim.

Ms Kavitha – the daughter of former Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao – will learn on May 2 the outcome of a bail plea in Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court. Special Judge Kaveri Bawaja on Monday reserved her order. The plea is against Ms Kavitha’s arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which took her into custody while she was still in judicial custody in the ED’s case.

The case against the BRS leader is that she was part of the ‘South group’ – a cartel of businesspersons who paid an alleged Rs 600 crore in bribes to the AAP for allotment of liquor licences.

Ms Kavitha has also denied the charges and, like Mr Kejriwal, has questioned the timing of ED, CBI action against her, coming as it did weeks and days before the general election.

The ED has also arrested two other AAP leaders in this case – former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who was arrested in February last year and has been in jail since, and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, who was arrested in October and received bail earlier this month.

While granting bail to Mr Singh, the Supreme Court observed investigating agencies had failed, so far, to recover any of the alleged bribe money. “Nothing has been recovered… there is no trace (of money allegedly received by AAP as bribes from the ‘South group’)…” the court remarked.

The same point has been made by the AAP and Ms Kavitha’s BRS colleagues.

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