Delhi Excise policy case | Court denies bail to Manish Sisodia

Court says CBI not only showed former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister’s active participation in the criminal conspiracy, but also prima facie commission of some substantive offences under PC Act by him

Updated - March 31, 2023 08:27 pm IST

Published - March 31, 2023 04:42 pm IST - New Delhi

File photo of Former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. The Rouse Avenue Court on March 31 denied bail to Manish Sisodia in a CBI case related to the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy scam.

File photo of Former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. The Rouse Avenue Court on March 31 denied bail to Manish Sisodia in a CBI case related to the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy scam. | Photo Credit: PTI

Delhi’s Rouse Avenue court on Friday denied bail to Delhi’s former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the corruption case registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in relation to now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. The court maintained that CBI not only shows Mr. Sisodia’s active participation in the criminal conspiracy, but also the prima facie commission of some substantive offences under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act by him.

Mr. Sisodia’s bail was denied by special judge M.K. Nagpal, who maintained that the applicant cannot be released on bail at this stage of investigation in this case as his release may adversely affect the ongoing investigation and will also seriously hamper the progress thereof.

After several rounds of hearings from both sides in last one month, the court observed that the applicant had played the most important and vital role in the above criminal conspiracy and he had been deeply involved in formulation as well as implementation of the said policy to ensure achievement of objectives of the said conspiracy.

Advance kickbacks

“The payment of advance kickbacks of around ₹90 crore-100 crore was meant for him and his other colleagues in the GNCTD and ₹20 crore-30 crore out of the above are found to have been routed through the co-accused Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinpally and approver Dinesh Arora and in turn, certain provisions of the excise policy were permitted to be tweaked and manipulated by the applicant to protect and preserve the interests of the South liquor lobby and to ensure repayment of the kickbacks to the said lobby,” the court said.

The court maintained that the evidence collected so far clearly shows that the applicant through the co-accused Vijay Nair was in contact with the South lobby and formulation of a favourable policy for them was being ensured at every cost and a cartel was permitted to be formed to achieve monopoly in sale of certain liquor brands of favoured manufacturers and it was permitted to be done against very objectives of the policy.

“Thus, as per allegations made by prosecution and the evidence collected in support thereof so far, the applicant can prima facie be held to be architect of the said criminal conspiracy,” the court said while denying bail to Mr. Sisodia.

As the counsel of Mr. Sisodia, during the bail hearing, maintained that his wife is critical and needs him to take care of her, the court said the condition of wife of the applicant as revealed through these documents cannot be considered to be severe or serious enough to release the applicant on bail.

“The same also cannot be taken to mean that she cannot take care of herself or has to be necessarily taken care of by the applicant only,” the court said.

‘Limited roles’

As the counsel of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader also mentioned about bail being given to other co-accused in the same case, the court said that the role played by Mr. Sisodia cannot be equated with or put at par with the roles of other accused who have been granted regular bail by this court earlier as their roles were limited.

The CBI arrested the former Deputy Chief Minister on February 26 in connection with the allegation of irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped 2021-22 excise policy. The probe agency has alleged that the excise policy was modified to extend undue favours to licence holders; licence fee was waived or reduced; and L-1 (wholesaler) licence was extended without the competent authority’s approval.

Based on the CBI case, the Enforcement Directorate is conducting a money laundering probe and has arrested nine persons. Its chargesheet states that a portion of the alleged kickbacks was diverted through “hawala” channels for the AAP’s poll campaign in the 2022 Goa Assembly election.

The court also said that Mr. Sisodia’s counsel maintained that he cannot be considered to be a flight risk, but keeping in view his conduct of destructing his mobile phones and also the apparent role played by him in not producing or missing of the file of one Cabinet Note put up through the then Excise Commissioner Rahul Singh, there may be serious apprehensions of destruction or tampering of some further evidence and even of influencing of some prime witnesses of this case by him or at his instance, in case he is released on bail by the court.

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