Liquor Policy: Delhi High Court Denies Bail To Manish Sisodia In ED, CBI Cases; Says He Misused Power And Breached Public Trust

Update: 2024-05-21 13:26 GMT
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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday denied bail to Former Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia in the money laundering and corruption cases related to the alleged liquor policy scam.Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma rejected the second bail pleas moved by Sisodia in the cases registered by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED). Sisodia...

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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday denied bail to Former Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia in the money laundering and corruption cases related to the alleged liquor policy scam.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma rejected the second bail pleas moved by Sisodia in the cases registered by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED). 

Sisodia is presently in judicial custody in both the cases.

Court said that Sisodia did not make a case for grant of bail in his favour. It further observed that the case depicted a grave misuse of power and breach of trust by Sisodia. It added that the material collected in the matter showed that Sisodia subverted the process of making the excise policy by fabricating public feedbacks to suit his goal.

Observing that corruption originated from Sisodia's desire to create the liquor policy, Justice Sharma said that the AAP leader sought to manipulate the policy formulation and deviated from expert committee report constituted by him.

The court said that the integrity of the decision making process was compromised.

 It observed that Sisodia did not pass the triple test for bail in CBI case as it is admitted that he has failed to produce two phones used by him and claimed that they were damaged. The court said that the possibility of tempering with evidence by Sisodia cannot be ruled out.

The court further noted that Sisodia is a powerful person, had responsibility of 18 ministries and is an influential person.

 Many witnesses are public servants and have given statements against the applicant and thus, the possibility of him trying to influence them cannot be ruled out, the court said.

In respect of the PMLA case, the court said that the prosecution was able to make out a prima facie case of money laundering against Sisodia.

However, the court said that Sisodia will be permitted to meet his wife every week and the trial court order allowing him to do so will continue.

Justice Sharma further observed that the Supreme Court order denying bail to Sisodia clearly mentioned that the trial court hearing his fresh application will not be influenced by the observations on rejection of bail.

“This means that this court can on its own and independently apply its mind to the facts of the caae and decide the application,” the court said.

However, the judge observed that the trial court's observation that there was a concerted effort on part of the accused persons to delay trial was not justified.

The court observed that it is essential to acknowledge the distinct roles of different individual accused persons and that it is not uncommon for their legal straggles to align and similar applications being filed by their counsels.

The court further said that mere similarity in filing applications by accused persons does not constitute delay tactic and that each accused is entitled to fair trial.

The court concluded that there was no delay on the part of the prosecution, both ED and CBI, or the trial court.

Senior Advocates Dayan Krishnan and Mohit Mathur appeared for Sisodia. Special counsel Zoheb Hossain appeared for ED. SPP Ripudaman Bharadwaj appeared for CBI. Read arguments here.

Sisodia approached court challenging the trial court orders dismissing his second bail pleas in both CBI and ED cases on April 30.

While denying him bail in the money laundering case, the trial court rejected Sisodia's plea that the proceedings in the case have been delayed or that the case is proceedings at a snail's pace. It was also observed the so­ called delay is clearly on account of reasons attributable to the AAP leader himself.

Sisodia was denied bail by the trial court, Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court in both ED and CBI cases. The Supreme Court had also dismissed Sisodia's review petitions against the denial of bail. His curative petitions have also been dismissed.

The Apex Court, while dismissing his bail plea, had last year said that he can file a fresh bail plea before the trial court if the trial proceeds at a snail's pace.

Manish Sisodia was first arrested by CBI and ED on February 26 and March 9 last year respectively.

In the FIR registered by the CBI, Sisodia and others have been accused of being instrumental in 'recommending' and 'taking decisions' regarding the 2021-22 excise policy, “without the approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licensee post tender”.

The central agency has also claimed that the AAP leader was arrested because he gave evasive replies and refused to cooperate with the investigation, despite being confronted with evidence.

On the other hand, the Enforcement Directorate has alleged that the excise policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12 percent to certain private companies, although such a stipulation was not mentioned in the minutes of meetings of Group of Ministers (GoM).

The agency has also claimed that there was a conspiracy that was coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals along with South Group to give extraordinary profit margins to wholesalers. Nair was acting on behalf of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, according to the agency.

Sisodia's bail applications in both cases were rejected by Special Judge MK Nagpal (now transferred) on March 31 and April 28 last year. The Delhi High Court then denied bail to Sisodia in both cases after which he approached the Supreme Court challenging both these verdicts.

On October 30 last year, the Supreme Court refused to grant bail to the former Delhi deputy chief minister.

Title: Manish Sisodia v. ED, CBI

Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (Del) 615

click here to read order

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