The Delhi High Court today denied bail to former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case on the alleged scam in the national capital’s liquor policy. A single-judge bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma, while dismissing the bail plea, said allegations against Manish Sisodia are serious. Mr Sisodia will go to the Supreme Court against this high court order, sources said.
The high court, while pronouncing its verdict on the bail plea, said Mr Sisodia is an influential man and the possibility that witnesses could be influenced if he is released on bail cannot be ruled out.
CBI, while opposing bail, had said it shall gravely prejudice the investigation, “more specifically when the Applicant fails to meet the ‘triple test’ for bail”. While personal liberty is paramount, the same is not absolute but subject to reasonable restrictions, including the interest of the state and the public, it argued in its reply to the court.
“The applicant (Mr Sisodia) enjoys close nexus with the executive, offices and bureaucrats and his influence and clout is evident. His party colleagues holding high ranks continue to make factually wrong claims in order to influence the investigation and also claim the applicant to be a victim of a political vendetta,” CBI had said during arguments opposing bail.
The central probe agency pointed to statements by AAP leaders in press conferences, claiming a close look would reveal “how the entire efforts of not only the applicant but his party colleagues as a whole are to shield the accused,” CBI said while opposing bail.
“The statements also undermine the authority of the 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,” it said.
Manish Sisodia through Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan submitted that the CBI has no evidence to show his involvement in the alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy.
The lawyer submitted that every accused in the CBI case has been released on bail except Mr Sisodia.
Mr Sisodia in his bail request stated that the possibility of a threat to witness cannot be said to arise without there being any material or antecedents of the Applicant. The witnesses in this case against the applicant are primarily civil servants, over whom the Applicant exercises no control, especially now since he has resigned from his official post.
Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court, taking cognisance of a supplementary charge sheet filed by the CBI, had earlier extended the judicial custody of the Aam Aadmi Party leader till June 1 and directed the jail authorities to consider providing the politician a chair and a table along with books inside the prison.
The CBI case is related to alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD). It is alleged that Manish Sisodia formulated and implemented the Excise policy in a way to facilitate monopolisation and cartelisation of the liquor trade in Delhi.
CBI claims that the AAP leader admitted to destroying two phones which he was using before July 2022.
“The two handsets which were used prior to July 22, 2022, have been admittedly destroyed by accused Manish Sisodia as confirmed by him in his response to Notice under section 91 CrPC”, the probe agency has alleged.
The CBI alleged that Mr Sisodia used three mobile phones between January 1, 2020, to August 19, 2022.
The last handset he used was seized during the searches in the case.
CBI arrested Mr Sisodia in this case on February 26, more than six months after FIR was registered in the matter.
The Delhi government implemented the excise policy on November 17, 2021 but scrapped it at the end of September 2022 amid allegations of corruption.
Manish Sisodia is an accused in the cases lodged by both the CBI and Enforcement Directorate in the matter.