Kejriwal withdraws plea from SC hours after court agrees to hear it

Kejriwal's counsel said they would contest the remand proceedings before the trial court and come back to the SC with another petition

Arvind Kejriwal being transported to the ED headquarters on Thursday night (photo: Vipin/ National Herald)
Arvind Kejriwal being transported to the ED headquarters on Thursday night (photo: Vipin/ National Herald)


Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday withdrew his plea against arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the excise policy-linked money laundering case from the Supreme Court, hours after the court said the petition would be heard during the day.

The apex court was informed by Kejriwal's counsel at around 12.15 pm that they were withdrawing the petition and would contest the remand proceedings before the trial court.

The plea was initially mentioned for an urgent hearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud. Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, representing Kejriwal, said he was mentioning a matter of "some significance and urgency".

"If this process goes on, I am very sorry to say, before the first vote is cast, a lot of senior leaders will be behind bars. I am imploring your lordships to take it up urgently either in the middle of the board or the end of the board," Singhvi said.

The CJI said a special three-judge bench is convening in justice Sanjiv Khanna's court, and Singhvi can mention the matter before that bench. "The special bench is over, almost," the senior counsel said.

"Then you can go right away to justice Khanna and it will be taken up," the CJI said. "Just go to that bench because that bench is available. You can mention that the chief justice has assigned it to justice Sanjiv Khanna's court."

Singhvi then rushed to justice Khanna's court, but the special three-judge bench, also comprising justices M.M. Sundresh and Bela M. Trivedi, which had assembled to hear BRS leader K. Kavitha's plea challenging her arrest in the Delhi excise policy scam case under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), was no longer sitting.

The senior counsel mentioned the matter before justice Khanna, who was sitting in the regular bench along with justice Dipankar Datta. "We will assemble after the regular bench gets over in a while," justice Khanna said, adding that the plea would be heard by a three-judge bench.

Later in the day, Singhvi again mentioned the matter before the justice Khanna-led bench and said they would withdraw the petition. The senior counsel said they would contest the remand proceedings before the trial court and then come back to the apex court with another petition.

"You may go there (before trial court). Just write an e-mail to the registry. We will see," justice Khanna said. Singhvi said, "I will write a letter to the registry. I had to mention this again before this court so that it is convenient for your lordships."

An hour later, solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, told a bench headed by justice Khanna that he was not objecting to the withdrawal of the petition. He said Kejriwal would now be produced before the trial court as he has withdrawn his plea from the apex court.

Mehta said he had instructed the probe agency not to do anything until the apex court is seized of Kejriwal's plea. "I am not objecting to the withdrawal (of petition). But it was pointed out by Singhvi that since the remand hearing was going on, he was not pressing it. That statement was factually incorrect and possibly intended to create prejudice," Mehta told the bench. "I had advised the ED that until the Supreme Court is seized of the matter, don't do anything."

Justice Khanna told Mehta about what had transpired when Singhvi had mentioned the matter and said he would withdraw the petition. "What Singhvi said was that he was making a written request to withdraw the petition. He also said that they will be arguing the matter when the accused is produced (before the trial court)," justice Khanna said.

Mehta said, "The accused (Kejriwal) will now be produced (before the trial court) because the petition is withdrawn. Until it was before your lordships, I advised them (ED) not to do anything."

"Now please produce," justice Khanna told Mehta. Later, the ED produced Kejriwal before the Rouse Avenue court in Delhi and sought 10-day custody in the case.

Kejriwal had moved the Supreme Court late on Thursday after the ED arrested him hours after the Delhi High Court refused to grant him protection from any coercive action by the agency.

Kejriwal's name has been mentioned multiple times in the charge sheets filed by the ED. The agency has alleged that the accused were in touch with Kejriwal to formulate the now scrapped Delhi excise policy that resulted in undue benefits to them in return for which they paid kickbacks to the Aam Aadmi Party.

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