BREAKING: [Excise Policy Scam] "Allegations of making deliberate loopholes to facilitate illegal & criminal activity": Delhi HC denies bail to Manish Sisodia in PMLA case

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Sisodia moved the High Court challenging the trial court's order denying him regular bail in ED's case related to the Delhi excise policy scam. The bail order was reserved on June 2.

The Delhi High Court on Monday 'denied' bail to former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia in a case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Delhi excise policy scam case.

While denying bail to Sisodia, the bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma said, "The allegations are that deliberate loopholes were made to facilitate illegal and criminal activity. It is also pertinent to mention that investigations have revealed that 65% stakes were given to 'South Group' in Indo Spirits to make it a mechanism of continuous generation and channelization of proceeds of crime".

The court noted that the ED has alleged that emails were planted by Manish Sisodia to show that there was public support to the recommendation of the group of meetings (GoM). It also noted that there was Sisodia's role in the conspiracy to allow illegal benefits in lieu of kickbacks of Rs. 100 crore.  

"This court has also gone through the order of the learned special judge and does not find any infirmity or illegality in the said order. Learned Special Judge has passed a reasoned order on the basis of the material available on record. This court has also rejected the bail application of the accused... titled as Manish Sisodia v. CBI dated May 30, 2023", Justice Sharma said.

"In view of the high political power held by the accused (Manish Sisodia) and his position in the party (Aam Aadmi Party) in power in Delhi, the possibility of influencing the witnesses cannot be ruled out. The twin conditions in the PMLA are in addition to the triple test. This court is of the considered view that petitioner has not only been able to pass the twin conditions provided u/S. 45 of PMLA, but has also not crossed the triple test. I consider in the view of discussion made herein above that the petitioner is not entitled to bail. The petition is accordingly dismissed", the court ordered.

On June 2, the single-judge bench had 'reserved order' in Sisodia's bail plea in PMLA case.

Notably, Sisodia has been denied bail by the High Court in the CBI case also. While denying bail to him in the CBI case, the court had observed, "The allegations are very serious...the gravity and allegations do not entitle the accused to be admitted to bail". Court had taken cognizance of the fact that since the party of the applicant was in power and the primary witnesses involved were public servants, there was a potential case of influencing the witnesses thereby hampering the due process of law.

Justice Sharma, while dismissing the bail application, had then also observed, “… since there are serious allegations of the misconduct against the petitioner, the petitioner being an influential person and having held the position of Deputy Chief Minister having 18 portfolios and the witnesses are mostly public servants, there is a possibility of the witnesses being influenced cannot be ruled out. Thus, the petitioner fails the triple test in the view of the seriousness of the allegations and his position. Though the petitioner has resigned from the post of Minister, but still his position is influential qua the witnesses.”

On the role of elected government taking policy decisions, the court had said that where such decisions suffer from malafides, interference by Courts and investigative authorities is warranted and permissible. Court had said, “This court has no doubt in its mind that it is for the executive /elected government to decide the policies. There is also no doubt that the Government is not bound to accept the recommendation of any expert committee report. The government is answerable to the public at large and they are duty bound to frame the policies which to their understanding is best for the welfare of the public. The economic policies framed by the government also fall within their domain and the courts have to be very slow in interfering into the same. However, the court cannot interfere into the same, only if such policy decisions have been taken bonafidely and in the interest of the public. But if such policy decisions or schemes are alleged to have been taken malafidely or have the taint of any corrupt practice then certainly such decisions are required to be enquired into by concerned investigating agencies and examined by the court.”


Notably, Sisodia’s bail plea in the CBI case was 'dismissed' by Special Judge MK Nagpal of Rouse Avenue Court, Delhi on March 31. While rejecting the bail plea, the court had stated that Sisodia played "the most important and vital role" in the criminal conspiracy, and he had been "deeply involved" in the formulation and implementation of the said policy.

Earlier, on February 28, a CJI DY Chandrachud-led bench of the Supreme Court dismissed former Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia's plea challenging his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an alleged case of corruption relating to liquor excise policy. The bench also comprising Justice PS Narasimha had held that "other efficacious remedies were available" to Sisodia.

It is CBI's case that there were alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy for the year 2021-22.  On February 26, the CBI commenced a second round of questioning after Sisodia was earlier questioned on October 17 last year. Chargesheet in the matter was filed on November 25, 2022.

Case Title: Manish Sisodia v. Enforcement Directorate 

Statue: The Code of Criminal Procedure; The Prevention of Money Laundering Act