Delhi excise policy scam: AAP to be made accused in money-laundering case, ED tells high court

The ED's submission was made while opposing the bail plea of former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in the money laundering case.

ByPTI

Published May 14, 2024 | 10:42 PMUpdatedMay 14, 2024 | 10:43 PM

Delhi excise policy scam: AAP to be made accused in money-laundering case, ED tells high court

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday, 14 May, contended before the Delhi High Court that it will make the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) an accused in the money laundering case stemming out of the Delhi excise policy scam.

The ED’s submission was made while opposing the bail plea of former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in the money laundering case.

“AAP is going to be made a co-accused in the next prosecution complaint (charge sheet) to be filed in the case,” ED’s counsel contended before Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma.

The high court, which was hearing arguments on Sisodia’s bail pleas filed in the money laundering and corruption cases lodged by the ED and CBI respectively, reserved its orders.

It is pertinent to mention that a petition by AAP national chief Arvind Kejriwal contending that a political party is not covered under the anti-money laundering law is pending in the high court.

Also Read: SC grants bail to activist Gautam Navlakha in Elgar Parishad case

‘ED, CBI still arresting people in money laundering case’

Recently, the high court while upholding Kejriwal’s arrest in the case has held that the rigours of Section 70 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which deals with companies, are attracted in this case.

The ED had likened AAP to a company and Kejriwal its director.

The ED’s lawyer further said there are concerted efforts by accused persons to delay the process of framing of charges in the case.

The CBI, which adopted the submissions made by ED, also opposed the AAP leader’s bail plea in the corruption case and said the delay was totally attributable to the accused persons.

While seeking bail for him, Sisodia’s counsel submitted that the ED and the CBI are still arresting people in the money laundering and corruption case and there is no question of early conclusion of the trial.

Senior advocate Mohit Mathur, representing Sisodia, said the trial court judge, while dismissing the bail plea, has not shown how the AAP leader has contributed to the delay.

“I had filed an application to physically meet my wife. Thereafter, I moved an application to sign a cheque. How does it delay the trial? How have I contributed to the delay in the proceedings? The trial court has said that out of 38 applications, 13 were filed by Sisodia. But the court has not said how my application contributed to the delay,” he argued.

“Post dismissal of my earlier bail, three accused have gotten some relief from the Supreme Court. Benoy Babu in ED case. Sanjay Singh, again in ED case and Arvind Kejriwal most recently. There is no threat as far as my running away is concerned. I (Sisodia) have been in custody for 14.5 months,” he argued.

Also Read: SC trashes plea seeking to remove Kejriwal as chief minister

ED’s allegations against accused

Showing the conduct of the accused persons, the ED counsel said 250 pleas have been filed before the trial court despite there being only 17 arrests. The investigation officer needs to be there in the court almost every day, he said.

He further argued that the offence of money laundering has been held to be as grave of an offence as terrorism and other serious offences.

“The conspiracy was to see that AAP makes wrongful gains in the form of bribes and in the process ensure additional benefits to the persons who gave bribes. The present accused (Sisodia) was part of GoM, he was the member of highest body of the party, he was holding position of deputy CM and was minister in charge of the excise department,” ED’s counsel argued.

He added that the agency has digital evidences and statements of bribe givers that the accused reached to them. The counsel also contended that the bribe money was used by the party in Goa elections.

Elaborating on the point of delay, the ED counsel referred to one of the accused persons and said in the last two months, he has only inspected 100 documents and 1600 out of 1700 remained to be inspected by him.

“Where most of the accused persons have said that they have inspected the documents and only digital devices are left, I am showing the concerted effort on part of the other accused persons in not letting the arguments on framing of charges to commence.

“The delay will benefit this present accused. I am showing the conduct of the accused persons. They are conducting it in a concerted manner,” the ED lawyer said.

“Accused no. 31 comes forward and says that in the last two months I have inspected only 100 documents, 1600 out of 1700 remained to be inspected. Accused no. 31 is the spokesperson of this party which will also be made an accused in the next prosecution complaint,” he argued.

Also Read: SC refuses to entertain plea to ban PM Modi from elections

Excise policy scam, bail dismissal

In the high court, Sisodia has challenged a trial court’s April 30 order by which his bail petitions were dismissed on the ground that the stage was not right for granting him bail.

The trial court dismissed Sisodia’s bail pleas in the corruption and money laundering cases lodged by the CBI and ED respectively in connection with alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.

The beneficiaries diverted “illegal” gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection, the probe agencies have alleged.

According to the CBI and ED, irregularities were committed while modifying the excise policy and undue favours extended to the licence holders.

Sisodia was arrested by the CBI on February 26, 2023, for his alleged role in the “scam”. The ED arrested him in the money laundering case stemming from the CBI FIR on March 9, 2023.

Sisodia resigned from the Delhi cabinet on February 28, 2023.

The Delhi government implemented the policy on November 17, 2021, but scrapped it at the end of September 2022 amid allegations of corruption.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)