Former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia has moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of its order denying him bail in the corruption and money laundering cases related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. The top court had on October 30 refused to grant him bail, saying the accusation against him of facilitating “windfall gains” of Rs 338 crore to wholesale liquor dealers was “tentatively supported” by evidence.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti, which termed several charges levelled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against Sisodia as debatable, had said, “However, there is one clear ground or charge in the complaint filed under the PML Act, which is free from perceptible legal challenge and the facts as alleged are tentatively supported by material and evidence.”
It had referred to the CBI’s chargesheet, which said the excess amount of 7 percent commission/fee earned by wholesale distributors of Rs 338 crore constitutes an offence as defined under section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which relates to a public servant being bribed.
The bench said as per the ED’s complaint, the amount of Rs 338 crore constituted the proceeds of crime. “This amount was earned by the wholesale distributors in a span of 10 months. This figure cannot be disputed or challenged. Thus, the new excise policy was meant to give windfall gains to select few wholesale distributors, who in turn had agreed to give kickbacks and bribes,” the bench had noted from the CBI’s chargesheet, adding that the “conspiracy and involvement of the appellant Manish Sisodia is well established”.
About alleged middleman Dinesh Arora’s claim of Rs 2.20 crore bribe paid to Sisodia, the bench had said it is not a charge or an allegation made in the chargesheet filed by the CBI and it may be difficult to regard the alleged payment as a “proceed of crime” under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Sisodia was arrested by the CBI on February 26 for his alleged role in the “scam”. The AAP leader has been in custody since then. The ED arrested Sisodia in a money-laundering case stemming from the CBI FIR on March 9 after questioning him in Tihar jail.
Sisodia, who held the excise portfolio, resigned from the Delhi cabinet on February 28. The Delhi government had implemented the policy on November 17, 2021, but scrapped it at the end of September 2022 amid allegations of corruption.
According to the investigating agencies, the profit margins of wholesalers were arbitrarily increased from 5 percent to 12 percent under the new policy. The agencies have alleged that the new policy resulted in cartelisation and those ineligible for liquor licences were favoured for monetary benefits. However, the Delhi government and Sisodia have denied any wrongdoing and said the new policy would have led to an increase in revenue.