Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Excise Case: Manish Sisodia sent to judicial custody till April 5

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The Rouse Avenue Court on Wednesday extended the detention of Delhi’s former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia till April 5, 2023, in a money laundering case involving alleged anomalies in the formulation and execution of GNCTD’s excise policy.

The Enforcement Directorate brought Sisodia before the Court on Wednesday, at the conclusion of the prison remand period given previously. The ED did not seek additional remand and instead filed an application for judicial custody. Taking everything into consideration, Special Judge MK Nagpal placed Sisodia in judicial detention. Meanwhile, Manish Sisodia requests that he be permitted to carry religious and spiritual texts while in court custody. Court said, “You move an application in this regard, and we will allow it.”

On the last date of the hearing, while passing the order on remand extension the same Court said, “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 alleged offence of money laundering and the huge volume of the records or data seized during the investigation and required to be analyzed 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.”

Furthermore, it is not found specifically recorded in the remand application that further ED custody of the accused is required in connection with tracing out of proceeds of the crime, but it cannot be overlooked that the entire investigation of this case is guided only to achieve that goal and to find out the exact volume of proceeds of crime and the role of various persons involved in or connected with the framing or implementation of the said policy, said the Special Judge.

Advocates Zohaib Hossain, who appeared before the ED previously, supplied massive amounts of mail and cellphone data, all of which are being forensically assessed. The cell phone, which Sisodia had been using for a long period, was replaced the day LG wrote to the CBI.

Lawyers for the ED further claimed that the claims were validated by the recovery of data from the arrestee’s computer. Throughout the interpretation, mobile data, email data, and cloud data were also received.

Previously, the Enforcement Directorate stated that the act of pro-active destruction of evidence led to only one inference: Manish Sisodia took purposeful attempts to destroy evidence of the offence of money laundering, when requesting remand of Manish Sisodia in connection with the Excise Policy case.

Attorneys Zohaib Hossain and Naveen Kumar Matta, appearing for the ED, had previously stated that Manish Sisodia was untruthful in his statements on March 7, 2023, and March 9, 2023.

“On being asked about his association with Dinesh Arora, who handled the transfer of kickbacks from the South Group to Vijay Nair, he gave an answer contrary to what has been revealed by independent persons/stakeholders.”

The ED previously informed the court that Manish Sisodia had acquired SIM cards and mobile phones in the names of others.

The excise policy was framed as part of a conspiracy. The plot was orchestrated by Vijay Nair and others, and the Excise policy was implemented to provide huge profit margins for wholesalers, ED stated in court.
According to ED, the 12% wholesale profit margin to private firms was never considered during the GoM meeting.

The investigation agency also informed the court about the meeting between Vijay Nair and K Kavitha (BRS MLC). According to the ED, accused Butchibabu Gorantla revealed a political agreement between then-Dy CM Manish Sisodia and K Kavitha, who also met with Vijay Nair. Butchibabu is a former auditor for K Kavitha who is currently out on bail.

In response to Sisodia’s counsel’s arguments, the ED lawyer informed the court that if the policy is a matter of executive discretion, there would be no coal or 2G scams. He was arrested while being held in Tihar Prison under Judicial custody.

After hours of questioning at Tihar Prison, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) detained former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in the liquor policy case on March 9.

On February 26, 2023, the CBI arrested Sisodia in the liquor policy case. The CBI had previously arrested Sisodia as part of its continuing probe into suspected irregularities in the formulation and execution of the National Capital Territory of Delhi’s excise policy (GNCTD).

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