Thursday, September 28, 2023

Delhi Excise Scam case: Rouse Avenue Court denies bail to AAP leader Manish Sisodia

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A local court in Delhi on Friday dismissed the bail petition of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia, who was arrested for his alleged involvement in a case related to the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

Special Judge M.K. Nagpal of Rouse Avenue Court denied bail to Sisodia, who is currently in judicial custody. 

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

Earlier on March 24, the court had reserved order in the bail petition of Sisodia.

Special Judge Nagpal had earlier heard arguments by Senior Advocates Dayan Krishnan and Mohit Mathur, who represented Sisodia and Special Public Prosecutor D.P. Singh, who appeared for CBI.

CBI had earlier 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.

On the other hand, Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, representing Sisodia, submitted that he had complied with the requirements of Section 41A CrPC notice, adding that the requirements of custodial Interrogation no longer survived. 

Contending that nothing exceptional has been stated by CBI to warrant continued custody, Krishnan said nothing was on record to show that Sisodia could threaten the witnesses. 

On March 22, the same court had extended the judicial custody of the AAP leader till April 5. Sisodia was produced before Special Judge Nagpal on expiry of custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED). 

CBI had arrested the AAP leader on February 26 after an interrogation of more than eight hours. He was named as an accused in the FIR. 

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.

On February 27, the trial court had remanded Sisodia to CBI custody for five days. His custody was later extended for two more days.

On March 6, he was sent to judicial custody in the CBI case. It was during this judicial custody that ED arrested him under PMLA. The Enforcement Directorate had arrested Sisodia after questioning him inside Tihar jail.

On March 10, the same court had remanded Sisodia to ED custody for his alleged involvement in irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. The custody was later extended to March 22.

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.

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