Excise Case: Delhi HC denies Manish Sisodia’s bail plea

3 July, 2023 | Bhavnish Tawar

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Delhi HC dismissed the bail plea of AAP leader Manish Sisodia, who was arrested for his alleged role in the money laundering case relating to alleged irregularities in city government's excise policy.

The bail petition of former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia, in the Enforcement Directorate (ED) case about alleged irregularities in the Delhi Excise Policy case was rejected by the Delhi High Court on Monday. The bail petitions of Vijay Nair, who was previously responsible for communication in the Aam Aadmi Party, Abhishek Boinpally (a businessman based in Hyderabad), and Binoy Babu Binoy, a manager at Pernod Ricard, a liquor company, were also dismissed by the Court about the same case. Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma, presiding over the bench, stated that no flaws were found in the trial court’s decision to deny bail to Manish Sisodia. The Court expressed concerns regarding the potential for tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses, emphasizing that the twin condition specified in Section 45 was not satisfied. Consequently, the Court denied bail. The Delhi High Court has declined the bail application of Manish Sisodia in a corruption case filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding the alleged malpractice in the enforcement of a previous liquor policy in the national capital.

Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma, presiding over the case, expressed concerns over the potential influence that Sisodia, a prominent figure, might exert on the witnesses, ultimately leading to the denial of his bail request.

Additionally, the Rouse Avenue Court had previously rejected Sisodia’s plea for bail in a money laundering case associated with the Excise scam. The Court justified its decision by highlighting the severe repercussions such economic offences have on the general public and society, citing the substantial evidence collected during the investigation that strongly implicates Sisodia in the commission of the alleged offence. The Court has acknowledged that there is alleged evidence indicating that a portion of the kickback or bribe received from the South lobby was used for the election campaign of the AAP in Goa. It is alleged that cash payments were sent to Goa through hawala channels to cover the expenses, and fake invoices were created to conceal the cash transfers made through these channels.

According to the statement, these cash transfers were carried out under the instructions of Vijay Nair, who represented the applicant and the AAP. Nair, who also served as the Media charge of AAP and oversaw the activities related to the previous elections, engaged the services of M/S Chariot Productions Media Pvt. Ltd., owned by Rajesh Joshi, another co-accused. This company was responsible for handling the advertising work and other tasks concerning the party’s campaign during the elections, emphasized the Court. Therefore, considering the background mentioned above, the gravity of the allegations made, the applicant’s role in the said criminal conspiracy, as well as his connection to the activities associated with the generation, acquisition, and utilization of the proceeds above of crime as defined in Section 3 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), along with the oral and documentary evidence gathered to support these claims and presented for the Court’s review, this Court firmly believes that even when the strict provisions outlined in Section 45 of the PMLA are reasonably interpreted, the prosecution has successfully established a genuine and prima facie case regarding the applicant’s involvement in the alleged offence of money laundering. On March 9, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) executed the arrest of Manish Sisodia, the former deputy chief minister of Delhi, in connection with the liquor policy case. This action followed an extensive period of questioning that took place at Tihar Jail.

Before this event, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had already apprehended Sisodia as part of their ongoing probe into a case involving purported misconduct associated with the formulation and execution of the excise policy within the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD).