Excise scam: Delhi High Court to hear CBI’s plea challenging bail to accused in mid-January

Though bail was granted to businessmen Vijay Nair and Abhishek Boinpally, they are still in custody in an ED-registered case.


Published Jan 05, 2023 | 5:37 PMUpdated Jan 05, 2023 | 5:37 PM

Excise scam: Delhi High Court to hear CBI’s plea challenging bail to accused in mid-January

The CBI’s pleas challenging the bail granted to businessmen Vijay Nair and Abhishek Boinpally — in a corruption case related to the now-scrapped Excise Policy, 2021-22 of the Delhi Government — will be heard next week, the Delhi High Court said on Thursday, 5 January.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is also an accused in the case.

Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma noted that counsel for the parties has filed their written submissions and said the case will be heard on 11 January.

The high court was informed that a trial court is scheduled to hear arguments on 12 and 13 January on the bail pleas of Nair, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) communication in-charge, and Boinpally, in a case lodged by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

It had earlier sought the response of Nair and Boinpally to the CBI’s petitions as well as on the agency’s application seeking a stay on the trial court’s bail order.

Still in custody

Nair and Boinpally, however, are still in custody as they were arrested by the ED in a money laundering case related to the excise policy after they had secured bail in the CBI case.

Challenging the bail order, the CBI counsel contended every reasoning given by the trial court judge is “perverse” in law.

Nair’s counsel earlier argued that the moment he got bail in the CBI case, he was arrested by the ED in the money laundering case.

The CBI’s lawyer had contended that a huge amount of money was brought to Delhi at the instance of Nair and while ₹30 crore was received, it was promised that an amount of ₹100 to 150 crore would be brought to the capital.

“We have to investigate what had to be done with that cash. We have to see what the person who paid that cash would have gained from it,” the CBI counsel had said, adding the promises allegedly made by Nair were included in the actual excise policy.

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‘Bail given at a crucial point of investigation’

In its petition, the CBI said, “By way of the impugned order, the special judge has not only granted concession of bail to the respondent accused in an extremely serious and wide-ranging economic offence but this discretion has been exercised at a very crucial stage of the investigation.”

It said this is a case of conspiracy sought to be carried out in an extremely convoluted manner with a clear purpose of making an attempt that the investigation if any, does not reach the real culprits.

The CBI said it was asked to inquire into a report submitted by the Delhi chief secretary and, when it commenced the probe, it unearthed the conspiracy led by Nair, who was allegedly collecting money from private liquor wholesalers in return for getting favourable changes made to the excise policy.

While granting them bail, the trial court had said since the maximum punishment for the offence alleged against Nair and Boinpally is only seven years in jail, it cannot be considered severe enough to deny them the relief.

The trial court, in its 14 November 2022 order granting them bail, had noted that the corruption case was based on an FIR lodged by the CBI, which does not say that Nair and Boinpally committed any substantive offences, but are only alleged to be part of a criminal conspiracy.

An FIR was lodged in the matter after Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe.

‘Nair involved in meeting with co-accused’

The CBI has alleged that Nair was involved in meeting the other co-accused and liquor manufacturers as well as distributors at various hotels in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi for arranging “ill-gotten money through hawala operators”.

The probe agency also claimed that Boinpally was part of the meetings and involved in the conspiracy to launder money along with another accused, liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru, who is currently lodged in the Tihar jail.

In the money-laundering case, the ED had raided nearly three dozen locations in Delhi and Punjab following the arrest of Mahendru, the managing director of liquor distributor Indospirit Group, which is based in Delhi’s Jor Bagh.

The other accused in the case are Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, former excise commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, former deputy commissioner in the excise department Anand Tiwari and former assistant commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar.

According to the two central agencies, irregularities were committed while modifying the excise policy and undue favours were extended to the licence holders.

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

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