Delhi HC rejects Manish Sisodia’s bail plea, calls charges against him serious
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma cited Sisodia’s position as the former deputy chief minister in charge of 18 portfolios and added the witnesses are mostly public servants and could be influenced
The Delhi high court on Tuesday denied bail to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia in connection with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)’s case related to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped 2021-22 excise policy, saying that the allegations against him are serious.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma cited Sisodia’s position as the former deputy chief minister in charge of 18 portfolios and added the witnesses are mostly public servants and could be influenced. “The petitioner is an influential person...held the post of deputy chief minister and 18 portfolios, and the witnesses are mostly public servants...the possibility of the witnesses being influenced cannot be ruled out.”
The court said it is restraining from commenting on the material on record so that no prejudice is caused to the applicant or the prosecution.
“The allegations are very serious in nature that the excise policy was formed at the instance of South Group with mala fide intention to give undue advantage to them,” said the court, referring to the group of politicians and businessmen from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
“Such a conduct points towards the misconduct of the applicant who was admittedly a public servant and was holding a very high position.”
A detailed copy of the judgment was awaited.
Sisodia’s bail plea in the money laundering case related to the alleged excise policy scam is listed for hearing in the high court later on Tuesday.
The CBI arrested Sisodia on February 26 before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) took his custody on March 9 in the money laundering case.
On March 31, a trial court dismissed Sisodia’s bail plea, saying he was “prima facie the architect” of the “scam” and played the “most important and vital role” in the criminal conspiracy related to alleged payment of advance kickbacks of ₹90-100 crore meant for him and his colleagues in the Delhi government.
The CBI opposed his bail saying he is an influential person. It called him the kingpin and architect of the alleged scam. The CBI told the Delhi high court that there was every likelihood of tampering with evidence. The agency said Sisodia formulated the policy.
Sisodia rejected the allegations and said that no evidence of a money trail has been found from him and that he has been singled out. He said that the policy was the “collective responsibility of the Cabinet” and was implemented only after approval from various departments and Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (LG).
Sisodia said he cannot be held criminally liable for being part of the Cabinet that approved the excise policy. He said he has made himself available for the investigation from the day when the case was registered in August 2022.
Sisodia said he is a public servant, was a minister in the Delhi government, and thus is a person of high standing. He added since he continues to be a lawmaker, he was not a flight risk.
The excise policy was scrapped when LG Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a probe into alleged irregularities in the regime that sought to replace a sales-volume based with a licence fee one for traders.
The AAP has maintained Saxena’s predecessor sabotaged the policy with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.