ED failed to furnish proof against CM Kejriwal: Delhi court

The judge said the ED has failed to clarify as to how much time it required to trace the complete money trail.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) failed to furnish direct evidence linking Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to the proceeds of crime in the money laundering case against him, the Rouse Avenue Court said on Thursday while ordering his release on bail.

The order, however, has been stayed by the Delhi High Court on an appeal by the ED. The trial court order was made available on Friday.

In the order granting relief to Kejriwal, Special Judge Niyay Bindu held that prima facie his guilt was yet to be established. “It may be possible that the applicant is involved in an offence... but the ED has failed to give any direct evidence against the applicant in respect of the proceeds of crime,” the judge said.

She also questioned the ED’s silence on Kejriwal’s assertion that he was arrested in the alleged excise policy linked money laundering case without having been named in the CBI FIR or the ECIR (ED’s version of an FIR).

“The ED is silent on how the proceeds of crime have been utilized in Assembly elections in Goa by the AAP as, admittedly, after about two years, the bigger portion of the alleged amount remains to be traced,” the judge said.

The judge said the ED has failed to clarify as to how much time it required to trace the complete money trail. “Meaning thereby that until and unless this exercise of tracing out the remaining amount gets completed by ED, accused is supposed to remain behind bars, that too without proper evidence against him. This is not an acceptable submission of ED,” the judge said.

The maxim of law that every person must be presumed innocent until proven guilty seems to be not applicable in the given case in respect of the present accused, she said.

There have been thousands of cases where the accused underwent a long lasting trial and agony resulting from the same, till the date they were acquitted by the court for being innocent. If an accused undergoes the atrocities of the system till his innocence is discovered, he would never be able to conceive that justice has actually been done to him, she said.

The judge said there are certain undisputed facts, as specified on behalf of the applicant, that in the month of July 2022 the material now with the ED was already available with it but he was called only in August 2023 which shows the malafide on the part of the ED.

She also dismissed the ED’s argument that “investigation is an art and sometimes one accused is given lollypop of bail or pardon and induced with some assurance to make them reveal the facts behind an offence”.

“If it is so, then any person can be implicated and kept behind bars by ‘artistically’ procuring material against him after artistically avoiding/ withdrawing exculpatory material from the record. This very scenario constrains the court to draw an inference against the investigating agency that it is not acting without bias,” the trial court observed.

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