Monday, April 22, 2024

Supreme Court to hear plea of Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia against arrest by CBI in liquor scam case today

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a petition filed by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, challenging his arrest and the probe conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigation in the liquor scam case.

The matter was mentioned this morning before the Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha for urgent listing.

During the mentioning, the CJI observed that Sisodia could avail other remedies available before the High Court under Section 482 CrPC. Justice Chandrachud pointed out that the Court interfered last week in Pawan Khera’s case as there was a prayer to consolidate FIRs filed in multiple states.  

Appearing for Sisodia, Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi replied that it was an extraordinary case, which warranted interference under Article 32 and cited the judgment in the Vinod Dua case. 

The CJI then agreed to hear the matter this afternoon, after the Constitution Bench hearing.

Earlier on Monday, Special CBI Judge M.K. Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Court had sent Sisodia to five days CBI remand in connection with his alleged involvement in the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy. 

Appearing for CBI, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Pankaj Gupta sought custody of Sisodia till March 4, arguing that investigation had revealed that Sisodia verbally directed the Secretary to put a new Cabinet note to bring about the change and variance in the policy. 

Gupta said the Deputy Chief Minister was heading the Group of Ministers constituted by the Cabinet for the Excise Policy. The profit margin was enhanced from five percent to 12 percent. Sisodia could not explain why the changes were made, he added.

The SPP said the agency was asking for his phone, which he has been using since January 2020.

Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, representing Sisodia, contended that the grounds for remand were not tenable in law at all. All the arguments about profit margin were approved by the Lieutenant Governor. The LG, who was a complainant in the case, had himself approved the policy in May, 2021, he added.

Responding to the allegation that Sisodia damaged three phones, Krishnan said that the Respondents have alleged that Sisodia used four phones, out of which, he destroyed three. 

He contended that Sisodia could not have kept the damaged phones with him in anticipation that CBI would come to arrest him.

CBI had arrested Sisodia on Sunday, after questioning him for eight hours in connection with irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy.

CBI said it had arrested Sisodia on the basis of some documents and digital evidence, besides on charges of destruction of evidence.


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