The Enforcement Directorate is examining Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s response to the fourth summons for questioning, officials have told NDTV. A Chief Minister can be issued a non-bailable warrant and arrested after evading summons thrice.
Mr Kejriwal has evaded summons four times, refusing to present himself before probing agency in the alleged Delhi liquor scam. He has termed summons “illegal”.
“There is no immunity provided to a sitting chief minister under law. Immunity is only provided to the President or the Governor of a state, so a Chief Minister can be arrested,” a senior official said.
The agency, he added, is still examining Mr Kejriwal’s reply. It is also considering whether a questionnaire can be sent to him or his statement can be recorded in his office like that of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, in connection with an alleged illegal mining case.
“The summons issued to Mr Kejriwal is under Section 50 of PMLA and under this section distinction between accused and the witness is not there. His legal team knows that but they still have asked us to specify,” he added.
In his reply to the probe agency, Mr Kejriwal has asked them to specify whether he has been called as a witness or an accused.
The Delhi Chief Minister deposed before Central Bureau of Investigation in same case last year, when the agency recorded his statement under Section 161 of the CrPc.
“Under this Section, a statement is recorded as a witness, so Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal went. But under PMLA, this distinction is not defined. That is why he is not appearing before the ED. Also, his legal team knows that any statement he makes will be admissible in a court of law,” said a senior Supreme Court lawyer.
Mr Kejriwal skipped the three previous summons on November 2, December 22, and on January 3.
On November 2, the date of the first summons, Mr Kejriwal had travelled to Madhya Pradesh ahead of the state elections to address a rally. He alleged that the ED was acting at the behest of the BJP to malign his image.
On December 22, he was in Punjab on a meditation retreat. On January 3, Mr Kejriwal cited preparations for the Republic Day celebrations and Rajya Sabha polls for three seats in the Capital.
Officials of the Enforcement Directorate said Mr Kejriwal’s name has figured in investigations. The probe, they claimed, substantiate that money received from kickbacks was used by AAP in Goa elections. AAP has called the entire case politically motivated.
The ED will record the statement of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on January 20 at his officer in Ranchi. Mr Soren has evaded seven summons and two notices sent to him by agency.