[Delhi Excise Policy] "Allegations Are Quite Serious": Court denies bail to AAP's Vijay Nair & 4 others in PMLA case

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Special Judge MK Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Court denied bail to AAP's Vijay Nair, Sameer Mahendru, Abhishek Boinpally, Sarath Chandra Reddy, and Benoy Babu, in ED's case related to the Delhi Liquor scam.

A Delhi Court on Thursday denied bail to Aam Aadmi Party’s Vijay Nair and four others in a money laundering case related to the Delhi Excise Policy Case.

Observing that “allegations are quite serious”, Special Judge MK Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Court, denied bail to Nair, Sameer Mahendru, Abhishek Boinpally, Sarath Chandra Reddy, and Benoy Babu.

The judge in the 123-page order stated that there is enough incriminating evidence to show the entire “modus operandi” adopted by the accused persons for the commission of offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

“Even the statement of the approver Dinesh Arora to some extent tends to corroborate the other oral and documentary evidence which has been collected and placed on record by the investigating agency”, the court said.

The court noted that in the instant case, some documentary evidence in the form of and including Whatsapp chats, cell locations, records of bank transactions relating to transfer, etc. of proceeds of crime, hotel meetings held between the accused at various locations, and some digital data and other records of the entities belonging to the accused persons is also on record to substantiate the contents of these statements.

On the allegations and role of Vijay Nair, the court said, “Though he was only the Media and Communication in charge of AAP, but it has been revealed during the investigation of this case that he was actually representing the AAP and GNCTD in different meetings that took place with the stakeholders in liquor business at different places. His participation in the meetings in this capacity is to be viewed in light of the facts that he was residing in the official accommodation allotted to a senior Minister of the AAP and once he is even alleged to have represented himself as an OSD in the Excise Department of GNCTD and further that none from the Government or AAP officially participated in these meetings.”

Further, the court observed that the ED has shown that the individual proceeds of crime attributed to the accused persons are on the higher side and that the amount of losses allegedly suffered by the Government exchequer is alleged to be highly exaggerated, with a significant portion not attributable to the conduct of the accused persons, but the same cannot be used to enlarge the applicants on bail in this case under the PMLA where serious allegations are made.

The court also observed that the allegation included the criminal conspiracy to bribe the public servants in politics and holding different offices and positions in Delhi for causing undue advantages or favors to certain persons in the liquor lobby against the payment of huge kickbacks in advance.

Taking note of the rival contentions from both sides and the material on record, the court opined that the "accused persons do not even satisfy the triple test" as laid down in the case of P. Chidambaram Vs. Directorate of Enforcement.

Conclusively, the court held, “Thus, keeping in view the totality of facts and circumstances & the above discussion...the court is of considered opinion that 'none of the accused' deserves to be released on bail in this case at this stage of proceedings as the allegations made against them are quite serious and relate to the commission of an economic offence of money laundering defined by Section 3 and made punishable by Section 4 of the PMLA. Hence, their bail applications are being dismissed”.

It is to be noted that on November 14, a Special Judge granted bail to two accused namely, Vijay Nair and Abhishek Boinpally in the CBI case related to the same scam. Thereafter, both were arrested by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) the same day.

Case Title: Vijay Nair v. ED (connected matters)

Statue: The Code of Criminal procedure and The Prevention of Money Laundering Act