AAP’s Sanjay Singh granted bail in Delhi Excise policy case as ED concedes

Sanjay Singh was arrested in the case by the ED on October 4 last year

April 02, 2024 02:29 pm | Updated April 04, 2024 08:49 am IST

The Supreme Court was hearing Sanjay Singh’s plea challenging his arrest and remand in the money laundering case. File

The Supreme Court was hearing Sanjay Singh’s plea challenging his arrest and remand in the money laundering case. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh won bail from the Supreme Court on Tuesday in the Delhi liquor policy case, as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chose to make a tactical withdrawal rather than risk an order from the top court order which may affect the trial later on.

After a half day’s hearing, Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, appearing for the ED, told a three-judge Bench led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna that the Central agency had decided to concede in favour of granting bail to the Rajya Sabha MP, whose custody was no longer necessary.

‘No headway made’

The turnaround came when Justice Khanna pointed out that Mr. Singh had been behind bars for six months with no headway made in recovering the proceeds of the alleged crime or any trace of the money trail leading to him. “He has been in custody for six months. We need to know if further custody is required or not,” the Bench, also comprising Justices Dipankar Datta and P.B. Varale, told the ED.

ALSO READ | Delete Bansuri Swaraj's name from AAP leader Sanjay Singh's bail order, says SC

The court pointed out that the accused-turned-approver Dinesh Arora had not implicated Mr. Singh until his tenth statement claiming that the AAP leader had taken bribes worth ₹2 crore. The Bench said that there were still contradictions in Mr. Arora’s statements.

Wider ramifications

The court cautioned the ED that it may have to pronounce a detailed order, citing explicit reasons, as required under Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), in case it decided to grant Mr. Singh bail.

Also Read: AAP MP Sanjay Singh released from Tihar Jail after 6 months

Justice Khanna warned the ED that it would have to risk the possibility of such an order if it chose to argue against the bail. “If we pass an order, we have to record reasons in terms of Section 45 and state that he has not prima facie committed an offence” Justice Khanna told Mr. Raju.

Justice Datta said that the mandate of Section 45 necessitated a court to be prima facie satisfied that the accused has not committed the crime before granting bail.

Justice Khanna subtly pointed out to the agency that such an order granting bail — especially from the top court — would have later ramifications for the outcome of the entire liquor policy case, especially during trial.

No argument

Changing tack, the ED said that it would not oppose the bail in view of the “peculiar facts”, but argued that the order should not be treated as a precedent. The Central agency said that though the case against Mr. Singh was arguable, it did not want to. The agency urged the court to record that it had not argued its case against the bail application.


Arguing for Mr. Singh, senior advocate A.M. Singhvi said that the ED case against his client was entirely based on a statement made by Mr. Arora, who had exculpated the AAP leader the previous nine times.

Mr. Singhvi said the case against Mr. Singh was now motivated by a vendetta, after he had given a press conference. “Perhaps my press conference may have been foolish, but you can be foolish and outspoken in a free country,” Mr. Singhvi submitted.

He said the absence of a money trail ideally meant there were no proceeds of crime. He highlighted that Mr. Singh deserved bail as he has been in custody for half a year now.

‘Key conspirator’

The ED arrested Mr. Singh on October 4, 2023, alleging that he was involved in “acquiring, processing, concealing, dissipating, and using proceeds of crime” generated from the excise policy between 2021 and 2022. In that time frame, he had received illegal funds to the tune of ₹2 crore as the “proceeds of crime”, the agency alleged, terming Mr. Singh as a “key conspirator” in its affidavit.

Mr. Singh had appealed to the Supreme Court for bail after both the trial court, in December, and the Delhi High Court had rejected his plea for personal liberty.

The grant of bail has spelt relief for the AAP ahead of the Lok Sabha election after the ED upped the ante recently to arrest Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the excise policy case. Former AAP Ministers Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain also continue to be behind bars in the same case.

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