Delhi, India: On March 31, a Delhi Court denied bail to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi’s former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the Delhi Liquor Scam case. The Court said Manish Sisodia can “prima facie be held to be architect of the said criminal conspiracy.”
The Special Judge MK Nagpal observed that “The payment of advance kickbacks of around Rs. 90-100 crores was 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.” Furthermore, the Court added, “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.”
The Court noted that there is sufficient evidence to show that Manish Sisodia “was also instrumental in getting surrendered the L-1 licence of M/S Mahadev Liquors by extending threats through the approver Sh. Dinesh Arora and the co-accused Amit Arora and by forcing closure of certain manufacturing units of the said licensee and some other persons related to owners thereof by exercising influence upon the Excise department of Punjab, where also AAP was ruling, and this was done as the said licensee was not acceding to the demands for payment of bribe equivalent to 6% of their profit margin, out of 12% profit margin kept for them under the above said excise policy.”
The Court noted, “formulation of a favourable policy for them was being ensured at every cost and a cartel was permitted to be formed to achieve monopoly in sale of certain liquor brands of favoured manufacturers and it was permitted to be done against very objectives of the policy,” and therefore, the Court observed that Manish Sisodia can prima facie be held to be architect of the said criminal conspiracy.
“The allegations made against the applicant 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 26.02.2023 and investigation even qua his role has still not been completed,” the Court said.
The Court expressed apprehensions about Manish Sisodia’s destruction or tampering with evidence against him or influencing witnesses if he is released on bail. The Court said that Manish Sisodia, “does not even satisfy the triple test as discussed above because though, admittedly, he cannot be considered to be a flight risk, but keeping in view his conduct as reflected from destruction or non-production of his previous mobile phones of the relevant period and also the apparent role played by him in not producing or missing of the file of one Cabinet Note put up through the then Excise Commissioner Sh. Rahul Singh, there may be serious apprehensions of destruction or tampering of some further evidence and even of influencing of some prime witnesses of this case by him or at his instance, in case he is released on bail by the court.”
“Mere filing of a chargesheet against seven other co-accused does not matter much in a case like this where deep rooted conspiracy for commission of some economic offences effecting the people at large is alleged to have been committed,” the Court noted.
The Court noted, “the evidence collected so far by the CBI not only shows applicant’s active participation in the above criminal conspiracy, but also the prima facie commission of some substantive offences of the PC Act by him.” Furthermore, the Court said, “There is also nothing apparent on record to infer or show that arrest of the applicant in this case was illegal or violative of any directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court or the Hon’ble High Courts and rather, the material placed before this court by the CBI justifies the arrest of applicant in the case.”
It is pertinent to note that Manish Sisodia averred that he must be released on bail on grounds of his wife’s medical condition. However, the Court observed, “that though the neurological or mental illness of wife of applicant is claimed to be around 20 years old, but the documents filed on record in support thereof are found to be of the years 2022-2023 only.”
The Court concluded, “this court is not inclined to release the applicant 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 thereof. Therefore, this bail application filed on behalf of the applicant is being dismissed.”