The Delhi High Court has dismissed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia’s bail application in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case concerning the Delhi Liquor Scam.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma said, “The allegations are very serious in nature that the excise policy was formed at the instance of South Group with mala fide intention to give undue advantage to them. Such a conduct points towards the misconduct of the applicant who was admittedly a public servant and was holding a very high position.”
Furthermore, the court noted that most witnesses against Manish Sisodia are public servants and as he is an influential person and the former Dy CM of Delhi having 18 portfolios, the possibility of witness tampering cannot be ruled out. CBI had submitted to the court, “That the Applicant is the kingpin and architect of the conspiracy herein. His influence and clout disentitle him to any parity with the co-accused. The Applicant has been confronted with sensitive documents and witnesses and is as such fully aware of the line of investigation.”
“There is every likelihood that in case the Applicant is released on bail, he shall tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses, more specifically in light of his past conduct to derail the investigation,” the probe agency added. Manish Sisodia is lodged in jail in cases registered by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection to the irregularities and alleged corruption in the implementation of Delhi’s excise policy.
Manish Sisodia contended that no evidence of a money trail has been found from him and the allegations against him are “in the realm of likelihood,” while seeking a regular bail in the case.
However, the CBI opposed Manish Sisodia’s bail arguing that the case involves a “deep-rooted and multi-layered conspiracy.” The agency further submitted that the AAP leader has remained non-cooperative and evasive during the investigation. The agency also submitted that he is the key link to unearth the modus operandi.
The probe agency claimed that the former Dy CM enjoys a close nexus with the executive and the bureaucrats. Furthermore, the CBI said that his party colleagues holding high ranks continue to make “factually wrong claims” stating that Manish Sisodia is a victim of political vendetta and are trying to influence the investigation.
“A perusal of the said statements by these leader(s) during the press conferences would reveal how the entire efforts of not only the Applicant but his party colleagues as a whole are to shield the accused herein. The statements also undermine the authority of the Ld. Special Judge (CBI), having already taken cognizance of the offences, and are being made to adversely impact the investigation by levelling unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations against the CBI, thereby influencing and deterring the witnesses of the case,” CBI had submitted to the court.
Architect of the Conspiracy
Last month, the CBI informed the Delhi High Court that Manish Sisodia is the “kingpin and architect of the conspiracy” in the Delhi Liquor Scam. The CBI also submitted to the court that his colleagues in AAP have made efforts to shield him in various press conferences.
CBI has also submitted that further investigation revealed the involvement of Amandeep Singh Dhall, the Director of M/s Brindco Sales Private Limited, who conspired with Vijay Nair and other accused for generating cash towards payment of 6 percent commission from the enhances 12 percent profit margin to the South liquor lobby as per the impugned policy.
“The concerned cabinet ministers as well as the Chief Minister, during the course of investigation, confirmed that the policy was formulated by the Petitioner and governed solely by the excise personnel, which Ministry was headed by Sisodia,” CBI submitted.
On March 31, a trial court denied bail to Manish Sisodia in the Delhi Liquor Scam case. The Court said Manish Sisodia can “prima facie be held to be the 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, “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.
AAP Leaders Shield Manish Sisodia
CBI submitted that Manish Sisodia has a close nexus and relations with the executive and bureaucrats. Furthermore, the AAP leader’s colleagues “continue to make factually wrong claims,” claiming that he is a victim of political vendetta to influence the investigation.
AAP Minister Atishi Marlena recently held a press conference citing the trial court’s order granting bail to two other accused and stating that the central probe agencies have no evidence of corruption.
She said, “There were two major allegations. First: Rs 100 crore bribe was received. Second: The amount was spent for Goa elections.” She added, “But the Rouse Avenue court order, through which two people got bail. The order should be read properly, as it makes it clear that ED and CBI have no evidence of the corruption of even 1 Rupee. The judge repeatedly said in the 86-page order that there is no evidence.” Meanwhile, the same court extended Manish Sisodia’s judicial custody in the ED’s case concerning the Delhi Liquor Scam
Likelihood of Evidence Tampering
On March 31, the trial 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, “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.”
The court said, “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.”