No evidence against Sisodia except for a statement, Supreme Court tells Enforcement Directorate

No offence under PMLA unless proof is there to show former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister is actively connected with proceeds of crime, says Bench

October 05, 2023 06:34 pm | Updated 10:00 pm IST - New Delhi

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. File

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. File | Photo Credit: ANI

The Supreme Court on Thursday noted that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has to establish an unbroken chain of evidence linking former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia with the liquor lobby in the excise scam case.

“You have to establish a chain. The money has to flow from the liquor lobby to the person. We know it is difficult to establish the chain as everything is done undercover… but that is where your competence lies,” Justice Sanjiv Khanna, who headed the Bench, addressed Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, appearing for the ED.

The court observed that except a statement made by businessman Dinesh Arora, an accused-turned-approver in the case, there was no proof against Mr. Sisodia.

Justice Khanna noted that a policy may be changed to generate money following pressure from a particular lobby, but provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) would be attracted only after the proceeds of a crime, in this case bribery, were given or paid. The court asked whether there was any proof or indication to actively connect Mr. Sisodia, represented by senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, with the alleged money laundering activities.

“You have to show that the person is actively connected with the proceeds of the crime, directly or indirectly,” Justice Khanna told Mr. Raju.

Mr. Raju said Mr. Sisodia was “instrumental” in the making of a policy which led to bribes. “He should not have allowed the policy,” the law officer said.

Also Read | Manish Sisodia | AAP’s Minister of everything 

“Generation of money does not make an offence under Section 3 [offence of money laundering] of the PMLA… You should show he was involved in a process or activity actually connected with the proceeds of crime,” the court responded.

The Bench is hearing Mr. Sisodia’s plea for bail. He has been in custody since February 2023 in connection with the liquor excise policy case.

‘Influential person’

The Delhi High Court had in May refused to grant Mr. Sisodia bail after agreeing with the CBI’s objection that he was an influential person who may use his power to influence witnesses and derail the case.

Similarly, Mr. Sisodia had also failed in July to obtain bail in money laundering charges arraigned against him in connection with the excise policy case.

Also Read | Excise policy case: ED names Manish Sisodia in supplementary chargesheet

He was arrested by the CBI on February 26 for alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 following several rounds of questioning.

In March, the trial court had dismissed Mr. Sisodia’s bail plea saying he was prima facie the “architect” of the alleged scam and had played the “most important and vital role” in the criminal conspiracy related to alleged payment of advance kickbacks of nearly ₹100 crore meant for him and his colleagues in the Delhi government.

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