Supreme Court Examines Allegations in Delhi Liquor Policy Scam Case
New Delhi, October 5, 2023: In an extensive four-and-a-half-hour session, the Supreme Court of India engaged in a probing examination of the bail proceedings for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia. This scrutiny revolves around cases filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) concerning the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam. The hearings were presided over by a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti. This legal marathon unfolded within the context of two petitions filed by Sisodia, contesting the Delhi High Court’s previous denial of his bail in connection with the ongoing investigations by the CBI and ED. During these proceedings, the Supreme Court posed a series of crucial questions to the investigative agencies, which shed light on the complexities of the case.
Is the ‘Policy Decision’ Under Challenge?
Justice Khanna sought clarification on the nature of the submissions made by the investigative agencies. He inquired whether the Delhi government’s Excise Policy for 2021-22 was being challenged. Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, representing the ED and CBI, clarified that the agencies were not challenging the policy decision itself. However, Justice Khanna pressed further, questioning whether the allegations against Sisodia implied a challenge to the policy decision since it was believed to have been motivated for personal benefits. The ASG maintained that their submission did not challenge the policy itself but rather contended that it was framed in a manner benefiting specific parties, with Sisodia allegedly playing a role in this process.
Is Asking People to Support a Policy Wrong?
Justice Khanna raised concerns about the agencies’ assertions that the policy change was influenced for personal gain. He questioned whether seeking public support for a policy was inherently wrong. The ASG argued that genuine suggestions would not be problematic, but the issue stemmed from identically worded emails, suggesting manipulation of public opinion through a “copy-paste job.” Justice Khanna, however, emphasized that pressure groups, lobbying, and seeking feedback on policies were common practices and that the critical factor was whether there were financial considerations or bribes involved.
Was the Document Given to the Council of Ministers the Same as the One Found on Sisodia’s Computer?
The discussion turned to a draft note dated March 15, 2021, found on Sisodia’s computer. The ASG claimed that this draft capped the profit margin for liquor wholesalers at 5%, but the final draft presented to the Group of Ministers (GoM) by Sisodiafeatured an increased margin of 12%. Justice Khanna questioned the accuracy of this assertion, pointing out that the document was created on March 15, before any meetings with liquor groups had occurred. He called for clarification on whether the document given to the council of ministers matched the one found on Sisodia’s computer.
How Did Money Flow From the Liquor Group If Nothing Came to Sisodia?
Justice Khanna delved into the issue of alleged kickbacks, questioning how money flowed from the liquor group when no direct funds appeared to be channeled to Sisodia. The ASG contended that actions taken by Sisodia indirectly benefited certain parties within the liquor industry. The bench emphasized the need for establishing a clear chain of events linking Sisodiato any financial transactions and questioned the lack of concrete evidence beyond statements from an approver.
How Will Sisodia Be Brought Under PMLA?
Regarding allegations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Justice Khanna questioned how Sisodia could be implicated under this act when he appeared not to have received any money directly. The ASG argued that Sisodia was instrumental in generating proceeds of crime. However, the bench pointed out that the mere generation of proceeds was not an offense under the PMLA and stressed the importance of connecting Sisodia directly or indirectly to the proceeds of crime for a valid case under the act.
These questions and discussions shed light on the intricate legal complexities surrounding Manish Sisodia’s bail proceedings and the Delhi liquor policy scam case. The Supreme Court’s examination emphasizes the need for a clear and compelling case, backed by evidence, to justify allegations against the former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister. The case will resume on October 12, 2023, as the legal process continues to unfold.