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Supreme Court to take up bail petition of former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday

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The bail petition of Delhi’s former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia will be taken up on Friday by Supreme Court after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader claimed that his wife’s health condition is precarious.

The former Deputy CM Sisodia has been in jail in two separate probes being conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED in the alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy.

A bench comprising of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud along with Justice PS Narasimha have informed that Sisodia that his petition filed last week had already been listed by the Registry for July 17.

The former Delhi deputy CM’s case was represented by Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi who appeared for requested to advance the hearing to Friday citing his wife’s ill-health.

The High Court of Delhi on Monday refused to grant bail to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia and three others for their alleged involvement in the implementation of now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma further denied bail to AAP Communications In-charge Vijay Nair, Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Boinpally and General Manager of Pernod Ricard India Benoy Babu.

Noting that the order of the special judge denying bail to Sisodia was well-reasoned and passed on the basis of material on record, the Single-Judge bench observed that it did not find any infirmity or illegality with the special judge order.

The High Court further took note of the fact that Sisodia was denied bail last month in the CBI case also.

Nair has been alleged of receiving the alleged kickback amount of Rs 100 crore, which was transferred or delivered by the South liquor lobby.

The agencies alleged that Boinpally lobbied for certain liquor businessmen based in southern India. He was further accused of being part of a conspiracy in pursuance of which he transferred money through hawala channels to Nair.

Babu has been accused of indulging in conversion of bribe money into legitimate funds.

The court had last month also rejected Sisodia’s application seeking interim bail for six weeks in view of the poor health condition of his wife. Justice Sharma had observed that the allegations against Sisodia were extremely serious in nature and that it cannot forget the positions held by him.

Earlier on June 5, the same Bench had denied interim bail to Sisodia on the grounds of the highly-influential positions held by the AAP leader, apart from the fact that the allegations against him were of ‘serious’ nature.

However, Sisodia was permitted 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.

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