HC denies Manish Sisodia bail in excise policy cases | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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HC denies Manish Sisodia bail in excise policy cases

May 22, 2024 05:54 AM IST

In the verdict, the court castigated the AAP leader for framing the policy to enrich private persons, noting that instead of genuinely seeking public comments, Sisodia “orchestrated a scheme” wherein pre-drafted emails containing specific suggestions aligned with the interest were sent “under the guise of public comment” to the designated email of the excise department

The Delhi high court on Tuesday denied bail to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia in the cases registered separately by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the Delhi excise policy case, noting that the evidence collected during investigation showed that the former deputy chief minister subverted the process of making the policy by fabricating public feedback.

Manish Sisodia has been booked by the ED and CBI in separate cases pertaining to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. (Archive photo/ANI)
Manish Sisodia has been booked by the ED and CBI in separate cases pertaining to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. (Archive photo/ANI)

In the verdict, the court castigated the AAP leader for framing the policy to enrich private persons, noting that instead of genuinely seeking public comments, Sisodia “orchestrated a scheme” wherein pre-drafted emails containing specific suggestions aligned with the interest were sent “under the guise of public comment” to the designated email of the excise department by various people, under his direction.

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The court said that “this deceptive act was a calculated move to create the illusion that the excise policy was formed after careful consideration of the feedback received from the public”, adding that the corruption, in this case, originated from Sisodia’s desire to create a liquor policy that would benefit select individuals in return for a substantial amount of advance kickbacks.

“The case in hand involves great misuse of public power and breach of public trust by the applicant who was serving as the deputy chief minister of Delhi at the relevant point of time. As the minister having 18 portfolios with the department of excise, the applicant was entrusted with the formulation of the new liquor policy. However, the material collected during investigation shows that the applicant subverted this process... The aim was to frame public policy which would benefit select individuals specially the wholesale distributors in return of advance feedbacks...,” a bench of justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said.

The court said that the ED has “prima facie” made a case of the offence of money laundering against Sisodia.

The denial of bail to Sisodia comes days after ED’s inclusion of AAP as an accused in the supplementary charge sheet, marking a significant escalation in the case of corruption, money laundering, and irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the excise policy.

Sisodia was arrested by the CBI on February 26, 2023, and by the ED on March 9, 2023.

Senior advocates Dayan Krishnan and Mohit Mathur appeared for Sisodia, while advocates Zoheb Hussain and Ripudaman Bhardwaj, respectively, appeared for ED and CBI.

In the verdict, justice Sharma said there had been no delay on the part of the prosecution or the trial court with regard to the trial. “There has been no delay on the part of the prosecution to supply documents. There has been no delay on the part of the trial court and the arguments on charge in the case filed by the CBI have already been part heard. It is also not the fault of ED, CBI or trial court that there have been multiple accused person, delay on the part of the accused in joining the investigation. No fault can be found with the CBI or ED when there was a voluminous record of investigation,” the court noted.

Sisodia’s legal team had argued that the court could consider the grant of bail only on the ground of delay without going into the merits of the case. Rejecting the contention and calling the same “meritless”, the judge said that the Supreme Court’s order rejecting Sisodia’s bail did not curtail the right of the lower court to consider the bail application only on the ground of merit.

The court was of the view that Sisodia was involved in the destruction of crucial evidence including electronic evidence and has not been able to make out the case for grant of bail. “It is an admitted fact that Sh Sisodia had failed to produce the two mobile phones which he had been using prior to initiation of investigation in the case and claimed that the same were damaged. The court is of the opinion that many crucial witnesses who are public servants have given statement against Sh Sisodia under section 50 of PMLA and the possibility of Sisodia influencing material witnesses, if released on bail, cannot be ruled out,” justice Sharma said.

The court however allowed Sisodia to visit his ailing wife once a week while in custody in both the cases registered against him in relation to the now-scrapped Excise Policy 2021-22.

“Respectfully disagreeing with the decision of Delhi high court”, senior AAP leader Atishi said this entire case is based only on statements taken from witnesses under duress. “The witnesses were beaten and intimidated until they gave statements against the AAP leaders. Thousands of raids were conducted in this case, but till date not a single rupee has been recovered. Yet the AAP leaders were sent to jail on false charges,” she said at a press conference.

She said: “We respect the high court, but we respectfully disagree with its decision. We do not agree with the decision because this entire so-called liquor policy scam is a political conspiracy to crush the AAP.”

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