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No bail for Manish Sisodia in Delhi liquor case, allowed to meet ailing wife once a week

Manish Sisodia had sought bail in cases filed by both the CBI and ED. The verdict was delivered by Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma. The High Court had reserved its decision on Sisodia’s bail plea for May 14.

Reported By : Abhay Parashar Edited By : Nitin Kumar
New Delhi
Updated on: May 21, 2024 23:24 IST
Manish Sisodia
Image Source : PTI/FILE PHOTO AAP leader Manish Sisodia arrives at his residence in New Delhi.

In a significant setback for former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday denied his bail requests in cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding the alleged liquor scam. The court emphasised that the matter involved a severe misuse of power and a breach of public trust. The court highlighted that Sisodia’s actions represented a "great betrayal of democratic principles." Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma noted that Sisodia had destroyed critical evidence, including electronic data, which compromised the investigation.

Influence and witness intimidation concerns

Given Sisodia’s influential position, holding 18 portfolios within the Delhi government, the court expressed concerns that he might influence witnesses. Many of these witnesses are public servants who have provided statements against him.

AAP’s response and next steps

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has expressed its disagreement with the court’s decision, vowing to seek justice for Sisodia by appealing to the Supreme Court. The high court’s decision came after reserving its order on May 14 following arguments from all parties involved.

Court’s observations on policy misconduct

The court noted that Sisodia, entrusted with formulating a new liquor policy, subverted the process by fabricating public feedback to suit his predetermined goals. This act compromised the integrity of the decision-making process.

Provisions for interim relief

While denying bail, the court allowed Sisodia to continue meeting his ailing wife weekly, under conditions set by the trial court.

Background of the case

Sisodia’s bail pleas were initially rejected by a trial court on April 30. He was arrested by the CBI on February 26, 2023, and subsequently by the ED on March 9, 2023, for his alleged role in the scam. Sisodia resigned from the Delhi cabinet on February 28, 2023.

Judicial custody extended

The trial court extended Sisodia’s judicial custody in the money laundering case until May 31, 2023. The high court’s order on Tuesday confirmed that the ED had made a prima facie case of money laundering under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Manipulation of public feedback

The court criticised Sisodia for manufacturing public feedback to justify his excise policy decisions, portraying it as a deceptive act to influence the policy outcome.

Political and legal reactions

Delhi Minister Atishi described the excise policy case as a "political conspiracy" by the BJP, aimed at undermining the AAP. She reiterated the party's respect for the judiciary but strongly disagreed with the court's decision, framing the allegations as politically motivated attacks on AAP.

Prosecution’s stand

The ED and CBI have alleged that Sisodia and others involved manipulated the excise policy to provide undue favors to license holders, resulting in illegal gains and false accounting entries. The policy, implemented on November 17, 2021, was scrapped in September 2022 amid corruption allegations.

Also read | 'After June 4, BJP leaders will go to jail for electoral bonds scam,' claims AAP's Atishi

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