Published on: 30 May 2023 at 13:02 IST
The Delhi High Court has denied bail to Manish Sisodia, a senior leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, in a case concerning alleged irregularities in the now-abolished Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.
Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma, presiding over a single-judge bench, stated that Sisodia, being a powerful individual, could potentially influence witnesses if released on bail. The court also emphasized the gravity of the allegations against the accused, who held a public office.
While acknowledging that it had not examined the excise policy or the government’s authority, the single-judge bench expressed concerns about the possibility of Sisodia exerting influence over witnesses due to his position of power.
Previously, a trial court in Delhi had rejected Sisodia’s bail plea on March 31. In a comprehensive order, special CBI judge MK Nagpal had prima facie determined that the former excise minister played a pivotal role in the alleged criminal conspiracy related to the Delhi Excise Policy case.
Following his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on February 26 in relation to a liquor policy case, Manish Sisodia appealed to the High Court for bail. He was subsequently arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 9.
The allegations against Sisodia and other members of the AAP involve an alleged conspiracy to grant liquor licenses to specific traders in exchange for bribes.
According to the central agencies, the excise policy was manipulated, resulting in changed profit margins that favored certain traders, who allegedly provided kickbacks in return.
The ED and CBI initiated investigations into the alleged scam after the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi, VK Saxena, recommended a CBI probe based on a report by the Delhi Chief Secretary. The report claimed that Sisodia violated statutory provisions and implemented a policy with significant financial implications.
The AAP has denied the allegations, asserting Sisodia’s innocence. Sisodia argued that the policy and its modifications were approved by the LG, and accused the CBI of targeting the policy decisions of an elected government. He further stated that neither the CBI nor the ED had been able to trace any kickbacks to him.
In the ED case, Sisodia’s bail plea was also rejected by a special court on April 28. An appeal against this decision is currently pending before the High Court.