Arvind Kejriwal not special, law applies equally to sitting CM: Delhi HC in Liquor Scam case

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The Delhi HC has said that Arvind Kejriwal will not be given any special treatment just because he is a Chief Minister, in the absence of any court order stipulating it

While rejecting his plea for arrest, the Delhi High Court has said that the sitting Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal is not going to be extended special treatment just because of his position.

The single judge bench of Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma has said that the law of the land is equal for all and there is nothing in the law to suggest that a busy man cannot attend to summons of an investigative agency such as the Enforcement Directorate. 

Kejriwal’s lawyer, Abhishek Manu Singhvi had argued that even if Kejriwal had not personally appeared before the investigating agency pursuant to receipt of summons under Section 50 of PMLA, the ED could have questioned him through video-conferencing, or by sending him a questionnaire or by visiting his residence to record his statement for the purpose of investigation.

However, the Delhi HC has rejected this contention & said that the investigating
agencies, under the Indian Criminal Jurisprudence, cannot be directed to conduct investigation in accordance with convenience or dictates of a person.

While saying so, the bench has relied on several judgments that hold precedent value in its opinion & has pointed out that whether a separate privilege should have been extended to the petitioner, who is a sitting Chief Minister of a State, for the purpose of investigation, within the parameters of law which exists as on date —- “there is no separate treatment or protocol which any investigating agency is to follow for the purpose of summoning or questioning of a common man or a Chief Minister of a State”.

The Court has further gone on to state that even though Kejriwal is a busy man according to his counsel, it doesn’t give him the right to skip summons presented by the ED, which was done nine times since October 2023.

“Court would not lay down two different categories of laws, one for common citizens,
and the other granting special privilege to be extended by investigating agency to a Chief Minister or any other person in power only on the basis of being in that public office since that
public office is enjoyed by that public figure due to the mandate of the public,” the bench said.

Court has also reflected on the volume of work that the ED has to do, and considering that, it is not bound to extend any special privilege to Kejriwal, in absence of a Court order as the law does not envisage so.

“Needless to say, the Directorate of Enforcement is not dealing with one case but thousands of cases have been investigated in the past since PMLA came into force. Since the year 2002 when the PMLA came into force, the investigating agency has not extended any special privilege to any person in absence of any specific order in this regard from a competent court of law,” the bench notes.

Case Title: Arvind Kejriwal Vs ED