New Delhi, March 22: In a setback to BRS leader K Kavitha, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant her bail in the money laundering case related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. The development came a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the same case. A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna, MM Sundresh and Bela M Trivedi asked Kavitha to approach the trial court, saying it is a practice which this court is following and cannot bypass the protocol.

"Issue notice. Counter affidavit shall be filed in six weeks. Rejoinder, if any, in six weeks. It will be open to the petitioner to move the trial court or invoke any other remedy for grant of bail," the bench said, adding all pleas and contentions available to the petitioner are left open. It clarified that the court has not made any comments on merits of the case. The bench said as far as Kavitha's plea challenging the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) is concerned, the court is issuing notice to the ED and seeking its response. Supreme Court Dismisses BRS Leader K Kavitha’s Plea Against ED Summons in Delhi Excise Policy Case

"The petition challenging the provisions (of PMLA) will come up with the pending matters," the bench told senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Kavitha. At the outset, Sibal told the bench that he has one request to the court that he should not be asked to go to the high court. "Please see what is happening in our country. People are being arrested on the basis of an approver's statement. I am very upset," he said.

The bench told Sibal, "As a counsel, you should never be upset. Don't be so emotional. Main writ petition can be put up for hearing with other petitions (pending matters) in July. As far as bail is concerned, we are very clear, you have to go to the trial court." When Sibal referred to the arrest of former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren and other political leaders, the bench asked him not to make political statements.

"We have been very clear and uniformly following this practice in this bench. All of us in principle agree we should not, because there is a political person or someone who can directly afford to come to the Supreme Court, bypass all the statutory and constitutional forums," the bench said. Sibal then referred the statement made by the ED in the court last year in September that she is not an accused. The bench said it is not going into the merit of the case at the moment Arvind Kejriwal Arrested: 'Corrupt Will Go to Jail', Says BJP on Delhi CM's Arrest, AAP Protest Against ED Action

"Mr. Sibal, what you are asking us to do is, according to us, not permissible. You see, what is going to happen if this court is going to entertain Article 32 petitions in all matters where a person can afford to come directly to the Supreme Court. This can't be done," the bench said. Sibal told the bench that he will approach the trial court for relief. Not pleased by the court's decision, Sibal said, "If history of this court is visited, this will not be of gold."

"Let's see," Justice Khanna told the veteran lawyer tersely. The bench ordered that if any bail application is filed by Kavitha before the trial court, it should be adjudicated expeditiously. Kavitha had moved the top court challenging her arrest by the ED in the Delhi excise policy case. A member of the Telangana Legislative Council and daughter of former state chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, Kavitha was arrested on March 15 and remanded in the ED's custody till March 23.

The 46-year-old was arrested by the federal anti-money laundering agency from her Banjara Hills residence in Hyderabad amid protests by Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) supporters. In a plea filed through advocate Nitesh Rana, Kavitha said, "Quash and set aside the entire action taken by the respondent (ED) leading to the arrest of the petitioner as the same is wholly non-est; illegal, arbitrary, unconstitutional, contrary to the undertaking tendered before this court and also being violative of the postulates of Section 19 of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 especially qua a woman."

The BRS leader sought the quashing of the arrest memo, the arrest order dated March 15 and the remand order dated March 16 passed by a special judge in a "patently routine and mechanical manner". On February 28, the top court had extended the protection granted to Kavitha from any coercive action in the case. The ED had issued summons to the leader on February 21, seeking her presence on February 26. However, Kavitha did not appear before the central probe agency. The ED has alleged that Kavitha was a part of liquor cartel 'South Group' which paid kickbacks of Rs 100 crore to Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in return for favours under the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22.