Manish Sisodia’s judicial custody extended till April 17

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Manish Sisodia. [File Photo]

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Monday extended former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s judicial custody until April 17 in connection with the now-scrapped excise policy case being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

CBI Judge M.K. Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Courts ordered the AAP leader to be produced before the court on April 17, IANS reported.

The probe agency had sought the extension of Sisodia’s custody as the investigation is at a crucial stage.

On March 31, the court dismissed the former Deputy Chief Minister’s bail plea.

While denying him bail, Judge Nagpal had said that Sisodia can, prima facie, be held to be the “architect of the criminal conspiracy”.

He observed that the payment of advance kickbacks of around Rs 90-100 crore was meant for him and his other colleagues in the AAP government.

“The payment of advance kickbacks of around Rs 90-100 crore was meant for him and his other colleagues in the GNCTD and Rs 20-30 crore out of the above are found to have been routed through the co-accused Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinpally and approver Dinesh Arora and in turn, certain provisions of the excise policy were permitted to be tweaked and manipulated by the applicant to protect and preserve the interests of South liquor lobby and to ensure repayment of the kickbacks to the said lobby,” the court held.

The court is not inclined to release Sisodia on bail at this stage of investigation as his release may adversely affect the ongoing investigation and will also seriously hamper the progress, the order stated.

It said that the evidence collected by the probe agency so far shows that the applicant through the co-accused Vijay Nair was in contact with the ‘South lobby’ and formulation of a favourable policy for them was being ensured at every cost and a cartel was permitted to be formed to achieve monopoly in sale of certain liquor brands of favoured manufacturers and it was permitted to be done against very objectives of the policy.

“Thus, as per allegations made by prosecution and the evidence collected in support thereof so far, the applicant can prima facie be held to be architect of the said criminal conspiracy,” the court said, as per IANS.

It held that the allegations made against Sisodia are “serious in nature” and he does not deserve to be released on bail as he was arrested in the CBI case only on February 26 and that the investigation qua his role has still not been completed.

Mere filing of a charge sheet against seven other co-accused in the matter does not matter much in a case like this where deep rooted conspiracy for commission of some economic offences effecting the people at large is alleged to have been committed, the court observed.

It said that the evidence collected so far by the CBI not only shows Sisodia’s active participation in the criminal conspiracy, but also the prima facie commission of some substantive offences of the PC Act by him.

“There is also nothing apparent on record to infer or show that arrest of the applicant in this case was illegal or violative of any directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court or the Hon’ble High Courts and rather, the material placed before this court by the CBI justifies the arrest of applicant in the case,” the court said.

During the last hearing, one of Sisodia’s counsel had said that nothing exceptional was stated by the CBI which would warrant continued custody.

“Nothing on record to show that Sisodia will be threatening the witnesses,” the counsel said, arguing that Sisodia has cooperated with the CBI investigation and none of the searches have revealed any incriminating material against him.

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