Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Delhi High Court denies interim bail to AAP leader Manish Sisodia in liquor policy scam

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The High Court of Delhi on Monday denied interim bail to senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia, who was arrested in February for his alleged involvement in the Delhi Excise Policy scam case.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma, however, permitted Sisodia to meet his wife, Seema Sisodia, between 10 am and 5 pm.

The High Court directed the Delhi Police to take the AAP leader to either the residence or the hospital where Mrs Sisodia was currently staying between 10 am and 5 pm on a convenient day.

The Single-Judge Bench further directed Sisodia not to interact with anyone else except his family members during this period. He was further told not to speak to the media and asked not to use the mobile phone or internet.

The High Court further directed that Sisodia’s wife be granted the best possible medical treatment. It suggested that Seema Sisodia should be examined by a medical board constituted by the AIIMS.

Earlier on June 3, the High Court had reserved its order on the interim bail application of Sisodia. 

Justice Sharma had refused to grant bail to Sisodia earlier on May 30 on the grounds that he was a powerful person and could influence witnesses if released on bail. The High Court further said that the allegations against the accused, who was a public servant, were very serious in nature.

The Single-Judge Bench, while noting that it has not examined the excise policy nor the power of the government, said that the applicant being a powerful person, there was a possibility of him influencing the witnesses.

A trial court in Delhi had earlier rejected Sisodia’s bail plea. Special CBI judge M.K. Nagpal had prima facie held that the former excise minister played the most important and vital role in the criminal conspiracy related to the alleged Delhi Excise Policy case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had arrested the former Delhi Cabinet Minister on February 26 after an interrogation of more than eight hours. He was named as an accused in the FIR. Subsequently, he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 9 after questioning inside the Tihar jail. He has since remained behind the bars.

Both the CBI and the ED have filed cases against him under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), respectively.

CBI had opposed Sisodia’s bail on the grounds that it would scuttle the investigation and that there has been a ‘constant’ practice of destruction of evidence by him.

CBI alleged that Sisodia gave evasive replies during the probe and did not cooperate with the investigation, despite being confronted with evidence. The agency filed a charge sheet in the matter on November 25, 2022.

As per the FIR lodged by CBI, the former Delhi Cabinet Minister and others were instrumental in ‘recommending’ and ‘taking’ decisions regarding the Excise policy 2021-22 ‘without approval’ of the competent authority with an intention to ‘extend’ undue favours to the licensee post tender.

The court had earlier observed that Sisodia was instrumental at every stage in formulation and implementation of the Excise policy and that his arrest in the money laundering case was fully justified.

ED had alleged that the Excise Policy 2021-22 was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12 percent to certain private companies. It said that such a stipulation was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings of the Group of Ministers (GoM).

The national agency further submitted that the conspiracy was coordinated by businessman Vijay Nair and other individuals, in connivance with people from the Southern part of the country, to give extraordinary profit margin to wholesalers.

As per ED, Nair was acting on behalf of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Sisodia.

It also accused Sisodia of destroying the evidence, alleging that the AAP leader destroyed 14 phones out of which only two were recovered. It was also submitted that the former Delhi Minister used sim cards and phones, which were purchased in the name of other individuals.

Read the order here:


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