Excise policy case: Delhi court adjourns Sisodia’s bail plea hearing till April 5
Sisodia was initially arrested by the CBI on February 26, where it was alleged by the agency that pieces of incriminating evidence were recovered during the raids and to conduct a fair investigation, further custody is required. He was remanded to CBI custody for five days on February 27
A Delhi court on Saturday adjourned the hearing on the bail application filed by former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in the money laundering case stemming from the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe into the alleged irregularities in framing and implementation of the liquor excise policy.
Special Judge M. K. Nagpal listed the matter for hearing on April 5 after counsels appearing for Sisodia sought time to go through the reply filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) opposing the bail application.
Sisodia is currently in judicial custody and is to be produced before the court on April 5. The arrest of Sisodia was the most high-profile development in connection with the controversial excise policy in which the federal agency claims kickbacks were paid.
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Sisodia was initially arrested by the CBI on February 26, where it was alleged by the agency that pieces of incriminating evidence were recovered during the raids and to conduct a fair investigation, further custody is required. He was remanded to CBI custody for five days on February 27. The custody was extended for two days on March 4. He was later sent to Tihar Jail on March 6, from where he was arrested by ED after a nine-hour-long interrogation on March 9.
Sisodia was produced before the Delhi court on March 10, where ED sought his custody, alleging that he incorporated certain clauses for the benefit of the South liquor lobby. It was also alleged that Sisodia was involved in the grant of wholesale legal licence to firm Indospirits, which is alleged to be a vehicle for the recoupment of kickbacks.
The court then sent him to seven days in ED custody noting “The accused was instrumental at every stage of formulation as well as the implementation of the excise policy and he appears to be connected not only with the generation of proceeds of time but also its repayment or recoupment.”
Sisodia was presented before the Rouse Avenue court on March 17, when ED again sought the extension of custody, alleging that Sisodia destroyed his phone on the date when the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi sent a complaint to the CBI.
ED submitted that the group of ministers meeting was a sham and that the agency had recovered documents from Sisodia’s computers showing the wholesale profit margin increasing from 5% to 12%.
The court again on March 17 extended Sisodia’s ED custody for five days noting, “it cannot be ignored that investigation into an ED case is a complicated affair and keeping in view the intricacies of the case, the multiplicity of the persons/accused involved in the commission of the year offence of money laundering and huge volume of the records or data seized during the investigation and required to be analysed by the investigating agency it is bound to take some time and the IO or investigating agency cannot be faulted or blamed for the same though they are duty bound to do and conclude it as early as possible”.
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Sisodia was then sent to Tihar Jail in judicial custody on March 22 in the money laundering case. He has also moved a bail application in the case registered by the CBI against him on which the arguments are completed and orders have been reserved by the court.
The court had on Friday said it would pronounce its order on Sisodia’s bail plea in the CBI case on March 31.
The controversial liquor policy was rolled out for the 2021-22 financial year in November 2021, marking the exit of the government from retail sales of alcohol and allowing private companies to bid for licenses. The objective, the Delhi government said, was to improve the buying experience for citizens by allowing market competition to raise standards.
The policy was scrapped in August 2022, soon after lieutenant governor (LG) VK Saxena asked for an investigation. The AAP and the Delhi government rejected the charges, alleging it to be a ploy by the Union government to target its rival.