Evidence collected by CBI shows Manish Sisodia’s active participation in criminal conspiracy: SC

31 March, 2023 | Pragati Singh

Delhi National

Sisodia destroyed phones to upgrade, although nothing of the sort occurred.

The Special Court denied bail to Delhi’s former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday, saying that the evidence gathered so far by the CBI not only shows the applicant’s active participation in the aforementioned criminal conspiracy, but also shows the applicant’s prima facie commission of some substantive offences under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

The court further stated that there is nothing on record to infer or suggest that Sisodia’s arrest in this matter was illegal or in violation of any Supreme Court or High Court instructions, and that the material presented to this court by the CBI validates the applicant’s arrest in the case.

“Further, even though the medical condition of the wife of the applicant has been sought to be made a ground for grant of bail to him, it is observed that though the neurological or mental illness of the wife of the applicant is claimed to be around 20 years old, the documents filed on record in support thereof are found to be of the years 2022-2023 only,” the court stated.

The Court further added, “Moreover, the condition of the wife of the applicant as revealed through these documents cannot be considered to be severe or serious enough to release the applicant on bail and 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 Rouse Avenue Court on Friday while dismissing the bail plea of Manish Sisodia, said, “The court is not inclined to release him on bail at this stage of investigation of the case as his release may adversely affect the ongoing investigation and will also seriously hamper the progress.”

On Friday, the trial court denied Manish Sisodia’s bail application in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case involving alleged anomalies in the Union Territory government’s excise policy formulation and implementation.

Special Judge MK Nagpal dismissed the bail plea and said, “In the opinion of this court, the allegations made against the applicant (Manish Sisodia) are serious in nature and at this stage of the case, he does not deserve to be released on bail as he has been arrested in this case only on February 26, 2023, and investigation even qua his role has still not been completed, what to say about some other co-accused involved in the case whose roles are also yet being investigated”.

According to the CBI, Sisodia played the most crucial and vital part in the criminal conspiracy, and he was deeply involved in both the creation and implementation of the aforementioned policy to assure the achievement of the conspiracy’s aims.

“The payment of advance kickbacks of around Rs 90-100 crores were meant for him and his other colleagues in the GNCTD and Rs 20-30 crores 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 South liquor lobby and to ensure repayment of the kickbacks to the said lobby,” stated CBI.

The evidence gathered thus far clearly shows that the applicant, through co-accused Vijay Nair, was in contact with the South lobby and that a favourable policy for them was being ensured at all costs, and a cartel was permitted to be formed to achieve a monopoly in sales of certain spirits brands of preferred manufacturers, despite the policy’s very objectives.

Hence, according to the prosecution’s claims and the evidence gathered thus far, the applicant might be regarded to be an architect of the aforementioned criminal conspiracy, stated the Court. Sisodia is currently in judicial detention and is set to appear in court on April 3, 2023.

The court reserved the verdict on the bail application last week after the CBI’s counsel presented brief written submissions and judgements on the last date of the hearing, as directed by the court. The CBI also provided a case diary and many witness statements in the case.

Sisodia argued in his bail petition filed before a trial court that keeping him in detention would serve no useful purpose because all recoveries in the case had already been achieved. He further revealed that he joined the probe as and when the CBI requested.

The other accused persons detained in this matter have already been granted bail, according to Sisodia, who further emphasised that he held the key constitutional job of constable CM of Delhi and has deep roots in society. However, in view of his detention in the liquor policy issue, Sisodia later tendered his resignation as deputy CM.

The CBI, represented by advocate DP Singh, opposed Sisodia’s bail plea stating, “If he is granted bail this will scuttle and compromise our investigation as the influence and interference are writs large”.

The agency also alleged that Sisodia said he destroyed phones in order to upgrade, although nothing of the sort occurred.

“According to us, he did this to destroy the chat. He (Manish Sisodia) might not be at a flight risk, but he is a definite risk who will destroy evidence, this cannot be ignored,” CBI added, opposing Sisodia’s bail plea. The CBI further stated that the South Group was in Oberoi between March 14 and 17, 2021, and that they produced a note and took a printout.

“They got 36 pages of photocopies. There were meetings and a printout was made. We have evidence to show that clauses were given and a report was prepared,” the CBI stated.

Previously, the Rouse Avenue Court, while sending Sisodia to CBI detention, directed that the accused’s interrogation during the remand period be conducted at a location with CCTV coverage, in conformity with Supreme Court standards, and that the film be retained by the CBI.

Sisodia was arrested as part of an ongoing inquiry into suspected irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the Government of the National Capital Region of Delhi’s excise policy.

Previously, the trial court noted that the accused had previously participated in the investigation of this case on two occasions, but he had failed to provide satisfactory answers to most of the questions posed to him during his examination and interrogation, thus failing to legitimately explain the incriminating evidence allegedly discovered against him during the investigation.