Granting Bail To Manish Sisodia Will Scuttle Probe, Destruction Of Evidence Was ‘Constant Practice’: CBI To Delhi Court
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday told a Delhi Court that granting bail to Aam Aadmi Party leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia in the alleged liquor policy scam case will scuttle the investigation and that there has been a “constant practice” of destruction of evidence by him. Special Public Prosecutor DP Singh made the submission before...
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday told a Delhi Court that granting bail to Aam Aadmi Party leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia in the alleged liquor policy scam case will scuttle the investigation and that there has been a “constant practice” of destruction of evidence by him.
Special Public Prosecutor DP Singh made the submission before Special Judge MK Nagpal of Rouse Avenue Courts while opposing AAP leader’s bail plea in the case alleging corruption relating to excise policy for the year 2021-22 in Delhi.
Sisodia, who is under judicial custody in CBI case, is presently in ED custody in the money laundering case.
“The influence and interference [by Sisodia] is writ large…..I will urge that him being granted bail will scuttle and compromise our investigation,” Singh said.
Taking the court through facts of the case, Singh described Sisodia as an “unprecedented person” dealing with 18 ministries, including the portfolios of finance and excise department.
“Very fairly, he [Sisodia] asks his officers to make a report. The excise commissioner with his team makes a report. This report upsets the simple man....this report was made by department, it was an expert committee report. As a very simple man, he should have either accepted it or not but he gets upset. And he removes ... because he finds 3-4 things abhorring,” Singh said.
He further alleged that Sisodia then removed the officer, appointed another individual and asked him to put out a draft cabinet note which was given to him on WhatsApp.
“….the report was asked to be put in public domain. Whatever comments come, they should be put before GoM. Those comments, many of them, were sought in a particular manner in which the government wanted. 3 legal opinions also were taken from interested parties. These 3 legal opinions were from Mukul Rohatgi, former CJI Rajan Gogoi, and former Justice KG Balakrishnan. These reports also came. They advocated the status quo. This was done and was taken by private players,” Singh said.
Singh also informed court that the three legal opinions were annexed along with the report which was to be given to the cabinet. However, he added, that the entire file regarding the minutes of the cabinet meeting and the cabinet note cannot be traced.
“A new officer is then appointed. Change is very short and new officer is Sanjay Goel…..He is given charge. Next day, fresh draft cabinet note is prepared without those legal opinions being part of it and also no reference to whatever was done in time of Rahul Singh [earlier officer]. There are 4 senior officers who are telling us this in detail,” Singh said.
He further contended that Sisodia not only destroyed the mobile phones, but various files were also destructed.
“When all these things came out, an ex post facto approval was also tried to be taken. LG had asked he [deputy CM] will not take decision, it will be taken by council of ministers. But there were decisions taken by him alone…..It's not only about telephones, his notices and reply are there. He says because to upgrade the phone..or for some reason they must have been changed. There is no upgradation done. In three months phone will be outdated?”, Singh said.
He added that the frequent change of mobile phones happened as certain WhatsApp chats happened in the “crucial four months” in 2021.
“Person is a saint till the time his irregularities are discovered…. I am very serious that destruction of evidence was a constant practice,” he said.
Furthermore, the probe agency alleged that 65 percent of manufacturing qua the liquor policy was taken over by a “South group” who paid kickbacks to the tune of Rs 100 crores.
“When licenses were being given, ultimately wholesale chunk had to come to them, there was an understanding with South group and an entity namely Indo Spirits, a blacklisted company…. Mr. Manish Sisodia told that this has to be done and we have evidence, how many people he was angry at that do it now. Because there was an urgency….They were ultimately given license against all norms. 65 percent manufacturing is by two big companies. And there are 14 other small manufacturers. Those 65 percent was taken over by South group,” Singh said.
On the other hand, Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, representing Sisodia, submitted that he had complied with the requirements of Section 41A CrPC notice given to me. "The requirements of custodial Interrogation no longer survives. We have passed that stage," Krishnan submitted.
Contending that nothing exceptional has been stated by CBI to warrant continued custody, Krishnan said nothing is on record to show that Sisodia could threaten the witnesses.
"Their only issue is about so called destruction of phones," Krishnan said, adding that the fact that one phone was changed on the date the matter was referred by LG to CBI is a coincidence as Sisodia "had no idea that any FIR would be registered".
Krishnan further said that Sisodia has deep roots in society and appeared every time he was called before CBI. "I am a public servant. There have been 2 public servants in this case ... allegations far graver than mine. But they are ... without arrest," he added.
On merits, Krishnan said the entire FIR is based on matters post the tender and not pre tender.
"I have pointed out that these are government policies and go through various stages before finalization. LG gave suggestions on policy, they were dealt with. Issues put to me today have gone through seal of LG and finance secretary etc. Issue of profit margin and tender eligibility was dealt with by LG, it had gone through Law secretary and Finance Secretary. The co accused similarly placed to me, who are public servants, were sent without arrest. Here [there] is no real substantial evidence of tampering with witness or threatening witnesses etc. I request you to kindly grant me bail," the senior counsel submitted.
After the arguments, the hearing was adjourned to March 24 for submission of written note by CBI and relevant judgments by the parties.
On February 27, the trial court had remanded Sisodia to CBI's custody for five days. He was later again sent to CBI custody for two more days. On March 06, he was sent to judicial custody in the CBI case. It was during judicial custody that he was arrested by the ED.
Sisodia was arrested by the CBI on February 26 after an interrogation of more than 8 hours. He was named as an accused in the FIR. It is the case of the probe agency that there were alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy for the year 2021-22.
The CBI alleged that Sisodia was arrested as he gave evasive replies and did not cooperate with the investigation despite being confronted with evidence.
CBI had commenced a second round of questioning. Sisodia was earlier questioned on October 17 last year. Chargesheet in the matter was filed on November 25, 2022.
The CBI FIR states that Sisodia and others were instrumental in “recommending and taking decisions” regarding the excise policy 2021-22 “without approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licensee post tender.”
On the other hand, ED has alleged that the excise policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profit of 12% to certain private companies. It has said that 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 which was coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals along with South Group to give extraordinary profit margin to wholesalers. Nair was acting on behalf of the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, according to the agency.