Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declined to appear before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning on Thursday (November 2), saying the summons to him were unclear, and appeared to be “in the nature of a fishing and roving inquiry”.
Kejriwal had been summoned in connection with the investigations in the Delhi Excise Policy case. In April this year, Kejriwal had been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with its own case on the same policy.
Can an individual decline to appear when called by a central investigative agency?
First, under what law was Kejriwal summoned by the ED?
The ED summoned the Chief Minister under Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Section 50 of the Act says anyone who is summoned shall be bound to attend in person or through authorised agents, and shall be bound to state the truth upon any subject relating to the one over which they are being examined, or make statements, and produce such documents as may be required.
So why was Kejriwal summoned by the ED?
In its preliminary complaint (which is akin to a chargesheet) filed in a Delhi court in January last year, the agency had said that Kejriwal allegedly spoke in a video call with one of the main accused, Sameer Mahendru, and asked him to continue working with co-accused Vijay Nair, Aam Aadmi Party’s communication in-charge, whom he referred to as “his boy”. In its prosecution complaint, ED had referred to a statement allegedly recorded by Mahendru, in which he claimed that Nair had told him that “the new excise policy was a brainchild of Kejriwal”.
And what will ED do now that Kejriwal has declined to join the investigation?
Kejriwal has asked the investigation officer to recall the “vague and motivated summons”, which are “unsustainable in law”. The ED is unlikely to agree, and will issue a fresh notice to him in the coming days. They can continue to issue notices to Kejriwal until he joins the investigation.
What if the CM does not join the investigation even after multiple notices?
In that case, the ED can take either of two actions: they can move an application before the concerned court and get a non-bailable warrant issued against him; or they can show up at his residence and question him there — and if they have concrete evidence, proceed to make an arrest after the questioning.