NEW DELHI — A Delhi court on Friday sent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s custody till March 17 in connection with the now-scrapped excise policy case.
After the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on February 26 arrested him, the ED, on Thursday also arrested Sisodia in the same case.
Earlier in the day, the court deferred hearing in Sisodia’s bail application for March 21, in the same case being probed by the CBI.
Special CBI Judge M.K. Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Courts has ordered Sisodia to be produced before court on March 17 at 2 p.m.
During the hearing, the ED sought his 10-day custody saying that they need to unearth the modus operandi, the entire scam and confront Sisodia with some other people.
ED’s counsel Zoheb Hossain, while claiming that Sisodia was part of the “money laundering nexus” said that the movement of tainted money through hawala channels was also being probed.
Hossain submitted that the policy was formulated to ensure that certain private entities get huge benefits and that one of the biggest cartels was made to operate 30 per cent of liquor business in Delhi.
Referring to the meetings between restaurants association and Sisodia, the ED alleged that relaxations were afforded to the restaurants in excise policy like reducing the legal age of drinking and other things.
The central agency argued that Sisodia had destroyed the evidence.
“Within a span of one year, 14 phones have been destroyed and changed,” the agency claimed.
“Sisodia has used phones purchased by others and SIM cards that are not in his name so that he can use it as a defence later. Even the phone used by him is not in his name,” the ED counsel submitted.
He (Sisodia) has been evasive from the start, the ED alleged.
There was a conspiracy behind framing the excise policy. The conspiracy was coordinated by Vijay Nair, along with others and the Excise policy was brought out for extraordinary profit margin for wholesalers, the ED argued in the court.
The ED told the court that the margin of 12 per cent of wholesale profit to private entities was never discussed in the GoM meeting.
The probe agency apprised the court about the meeting between Vijay Nair and K Kavitha (BRS MLC).
The ED stated that accused Butchibabu Gorantla disclosed a political understanding between then Dy CM Manish Sisodia and K Kavitha who also met Vijay Nair. Butchibabu is the former auditor of K Kavitha and is presently on bail.
Appearing for Sisodia, senior advocate Dayan Krishanan said that they were to argue for bail on Friday and that he was “never summoned by the ED even once.”
Senior advocate Mohit Mathur also represented Sisodia and said that it is only a fashion these days that they (Agencies) take arrests as a “right”.
“It is time for courts to come down heavily on this entitlement that they feel they have,” he argued.
Another senior advocate for Sisodia, Siddharth Aggarwal argued that “it’s so easy in our country and our polity to say that I picked money for so and so functionary. Can that functionary be put behind bars based on this? If this is done, then Sec 19 PMLA will become redundant.”
He concluded by saying that the law is that “if the law laid for arrest is not complied with, the arrest will be illegal.”
Hossain for ED argued: “We are at the stage of remand. Please see what we have against the accused. They say policy is a matter of the executive, if that were the case, we would not have a coal scam or 2G scam.”
On March 6, Judge Nagpal sent Sisodia to 14 days of judicial custody in CBI case, and he is lodged in the national capital’s Tihar jail.
The CBI was given his remand for seven days before the judge sent him to judicial custody till March 20. — IANS