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Delhi Excise policy case: Court reserves order for Sisodia's bail plea, CBI says "he is influential"

New Delhi: The Rouse Avenue court on Saturday reserved the regular bail pleas of former Deputy CM Manish Sisodia. He has sought regular bail in CBI and ED cases related to the Delhi Excise Policy case.
While opposing the bail plea, the CBI said that this Court had rejected his bail. His bail was dismissed by the Supreme Court too.
Special judge Kaveri Baweja, after hearing the submissions of ED and CBI, reserved the order for pronouncement on April 30.
Advocate Vivek Jain appeared for Manish Sisodia, Zoheb Hossain for ED, and Pankaj Gupta for the CBI.
During the hearing, the plea seeking interim bail for General election campaign was withdrawn by the counsel for Sisodia.
CBI's Prosecutor, Pankaj Gupta, while opposing bail, said that Sisodia is the main accused in the case and is not entitled to bail.
He further said that accused does not satisfy the rigors of PMLA for granting of bail. He is powerful political figure. The investigation is at a nascent stage.
It was further submitted that there are allegations of destruction of evidence and misuse of power, which may hamper the probe.
Pankaj Gupta referred to former PM Manmohan Singh, who said that corruption is cancer for society.
On April 6, while opposing the regular bail plea of Sisodia, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said that there was no delay on the part of the prosecution. Rather, it was caused by the accused persons by filing frivolous applications in the Delhi Excise Policy case, the ED said before the Rouse Avenue court.
The main thrust of arguments by counsel for Manish Sisodia was the delay in trial. It was argued that trial proceedings are going at a snail's pace.
ED's special counsel, Zoheb Hossain, opposed the argument of delay.
Hossain submitted that the trial has not proceeded at a snail's pace and there has been no delay from the prosecution side. There are 95 applications moved by 31 accused persons, Hossain argued.
"There is a delay by the accused persons and not by the prosecution," he submitted.
Hossain further said that the delay is partly due to this accused and partly to other co-accused persons.
ED's counsel also argued that the delay can not be the sole basis for bail. The rigours of Section 45 PMLA should always be considered when granting bail in PMLA.
Zoheb Hossain also referred to the bail order of Binoy Babu. He said that Binoy Babh was granted bail as he was a prosecution witness in the CBI case. No money was paid to him or by him. He suffered 13 months of incarceration. He was the regional manager of Pernod Ricard.
It was also argued by the ED that the entire offence of money laundering could not have been possible without the present accused (Sisodia).
Special Counsel referred to the February 7, 2023, order and said that frivolous applications were kept filed by other accused persons, which consumed time.
"Applications moved by one or another accused person show that there was a concerted effort to ensure that the trial is delayed," Hossain argued.
Hossain also referred to the March 7 order and said that the inspection is going on in a most lackadiscal manner.
Special Counsel also referred to the Supreme Court's Judgement (in Sisodia's case) wherein it said that the bail application has to be considered by the trial court without being influenced by the observations in the judgement, except for the observations on the right to a speedy trial.
Zoheb Hossain submitted that the trial is not at a snail pace while allowing the 95 applications, and the inspection. Delay can't be the sole ground for bail.
The ground of delay was not accepted and bail for another accused was dismissed on this ground, Hossain said.
The point of delay will be a weighty factor for this court, Hossain added.
Hossain submitted that Sisodia and other accused received Rs 100 crores from South groups.
ED's counsel said that Sisodia is responsible for a policy drafted by many accused persons with a sole purpose of establishing laundered proceeds of crime and increasing the wholesale profit from 5 to 12 percent.
The margin difference is the proceeds of crime. Rs 338 crore would be the proceed of crime during the subsistence of policy, he added.
Special Counsel Hossain said "the kickback alone is not the proceeds of crime in this case. Wholesale profits is the proceed of crime because it was derived from the criminal activity. Entire wholesale profit, which is difference between 12 and 5 percent, which is 338 crores would be the proceeds of crime."
Hossain also mentioned the role of Vijay Nair and said that he is not ordinary worker of AAP but is close associate of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and closely interacts with Sisodia.
Hossain said that Benoy Babu, in his statement, stated that Nair was representing the Delhi excise department as OSD. Hossain referred to a WhatsApp chat between Vijay Nair and Benoy Babu.
Hossain submitted that Vijay Nair had nothing to do with the excise policy. He held the position of media coordinator. But he was used to do billing changing policies, bargaining the bribe, etc.
It was also argued by the ED that there was a political understanding between K Kavitha, Chief Minister Kejriwal and Deputy CM. In terms of that understanding, Kavitha met Nair.
They (Nair and Sisodia) were having secret meeting that increased during the process of forming the liquor policy.
Vijay Nair was acting under the instructions of accused and other political leaders, Hossain argued.
ED' s counsel submitted that Accused of money laundering need not be accused of predicate offence. But it is not the case here. Even mere generation of proceeds of crime would attract the offence of money laundering, as the SC judgement referred to.
Hossain also submitted that the expert committee report was rejected. Emails were planted to create a public impression.
ED counsel also submitted that there is destruction of evidence in this case. 170 mobiles were changed or destroyed by accused persons.

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