The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned till September 4 the bail applications to former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia who is facing charges of money laundering and corruption for alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of a now-scrapped liquor policy in the national capital. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has been in custody since February of this year and is being investigated by both the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti was hearing Sisodia’s pleas against the Delhi High Court denying him bail in both the CBI and ED cases. The apex court issued notice in his petitions last month, on July 14.
The bench said that it will consider today the plea for interim bail.
Senior Advocate Doctor Abhishek Manu Singhvi raised the plea for interim bail on humanitarian grounds to enable Sisodia to visit ailing wife. Justice Khanna pointed out that the CBI has stated in the counter affidavit that the wife had been suffering from the illness for the past 20 years.
Singhvi stated that she is suffering from a degenerative disease which is progressing and was admitted to hospital in June and July. There is no one else in the family to take care of her as the only son is abroad. The senior counsel said that she has walking difficulties and vision problems.
However, the bench said that it will consider the interim bail plea at a later time along with the regular bail application. “This is a steady disease…We will take it up after some time. When we hear regular bail, we will examine”, Justice Khanna said while posting the matter to the 4th of September.
The bench also asked the CBI to clearly specify how the money trail is established. “When you argue regular bail, I want clear-cut picture on how money trail was established. From the affidavit, it wasn’t very clear”, Justice Khanna told Additional Solicitor General SV Raju.
“This disease has its own consequences. There are sometimes conditions which come back. Just take care of that”, Justice Khanna told the ASG.
ASG Raju said that she has to undergo an independent evaluation by the AIIMS. However, the bench said that it cannot be insisted so long as she is consulting a reputed doctor.
“So long as she is going to a reputed doctor, it is fine…Should doctor be changed because you want that?…By no stretch…”, Justice Khanna said.
The origin of the controversy is the excise policy framed by the Government of the National Capital of Delhi to boost revenue and reform liquor trade in 2021, which was later withdrawn after allegations of irregularities in implementation were made and Lieutenant-Governor Vinay Kumar Saxena ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the policy. This policy – which sought to completely privatise liquor trade in the national capital – was used to grant undue advantage to private entities at the cost of the public exchequer and smacked of corruption, the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation have claimed. The investigations are currently underway and led to the arrest of, among others, Manish Sisodia – the former deputy chief minister of Delhi and a prominent leader of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Manish Sisodia was first arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a case related to the excise policy on February 26 and later by the Enforcement Directorate on March 9. In the first information report (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 – investigated by the CBI and the ED respectively – were rejected by Special Judge MK Nagpal of Rouse Avenue Courts in Delhi on March 31 and April 28.
Last month, on July 3, the Delhi High Court denied bail to Sisodia in the money laundering case related to the implementation of the previous liquor policy in the national capital. Earlier, on May 30, the high court rejected his bail plea in the corruption case registered by the CBI in relation to the liquor policy. The former litigator has approached the Supreme Court challenging both these verdicts.
- Manish Sisodia v. Central Bureau of Investigation | Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 8167 of 2023
- Manish Sisodia v. Directorate of Enforcement | Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 8188 of 2023