Kejriwal's Arrest: Why Getting Bail Under PMLA Is Tough

Kejriwal's Arrest: Why Getting Bail Under PMLA Is Tough

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's recent arrest by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, in connection with a liquor scam has ignited a significant legal and political storm. The ED is seeking his custody for interrogation in a special PMLA court, while Kejriwal has swiftly moved to challenge his arrest in the Supreme Court, which will hear the case today. This development comes after Kejriwal's refusal to comply with eight summonses issued by the probe agency.

The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, stands as a formidable obstacle to obtaining bail, primarily due to its stringent provisions. Enacted with the primary goal of preventing money laundering, this law, which was implemented in 2005 and later expanded in scope in 2012, poses significant challenges for individuals seeking bail. Under the PMLA, all offenses are considered non-bailable, with no provision for anticipatory bail. Therefore, those arrested under the act face the arduous task of proving the baselessness of the charges against them.

For instance, notable figures such as former Delhi government ministers Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain currently find themselves incarcerated under the PMLA, with another AAP leader, Sanjay Singh, also in custody under similar charges. The stringent bail conditions laid down by the PMLA, reinforced by an amendment in 2018, mandate that the court must be convinced of the accused's innocence and must ensure that there is no risk of the accused committing further offenses while on bail. The Supreme Court's affirmation of the ED's powers and the 2018 amendment underscores the gravity with which money laundering is perceived and the concerted efforts to combat such illicit activities.

Kejriwal's arrest comes in the wake of the Delhi High Court's denial of his plea for protection against coercive actions by authorities in the case. The allegations against Kejriwal stem from the revoked Delhi excise policy 2021-22, with the ED alleging a conspiracy to provide excessive profit margins to liquor wholesalers. Kejriwal vehemently asserts that the charges against him are politically motivated, aimed at weakening him ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Notably, Kejriwal is the fourth prominent AAP leader to face ED action in this case, with Sisodia, Singh, and Jain already in judicial custody.

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