No evidence against Sisodia except for a statement, SC tells ED


The Supreme Court on Thursday orally observed that the Enforcement Di­ rectorate (ED) has to esta­blish an unbroken chain of evidence linking former Delhi Deputy Chief Minis­ ter Manish Sisodia with the liquor lobby in the excise scam case.

“You have to establish a chain. The money has to flow from the liquor lobby to the person. We know it is difficult to establish the chain as everything is done undercover... but that is where your competence lies,” Justice Sanjiv Khan­ na, who headed the Bench, addressed Addi­ tional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, appearing for the ED.

The court observed that except a statement made by businessman Dinesh Ar­ ora, an accused­turned­ap­ prover, there was no proof against Mr. Sisodia. Justice Khanna noted that a policy may be changed to gener­ ate money following pres­ sure from a particular lob­ by, but provisions of the Prevention of Money Laun­ dering Act (PMLA) would be attracted only after the proceeds of a crime, in this case bribe, was paid.

The court asked wheth­ er there was any proof or indication to actively con­ nect Mr. Sisodia, repre­sented by senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, with the al­ leged money laundering activities.

“You have to show that the person is actively con­ nected with the proceeds of the crime, directly or indirectly,” Justice Khanna told Mr. Raju.

Mr. Raju said Mr. Sisodia was “instrumental” in the making of a policy which led to bribes. “He should not have allowed the policy,” the law offic­ er said.

“Generation of money does not make an of­ fence under Section 3 [offence of money launder­ ing] of the PMLA... You should show he was in­ volved in a process or activity actually connected with the proceeds of crime,” the court responded.

The Bench is hearing Mr. Sisodia’s plea for bail. He has been in custody since February 2023 in connection with the liquor excise policy case.

Arrested in February

The Delhi High Court had in May refused to grant Mr. Sisodia bail after agreeing with the CBI’s objec­ tion that he was an influential person who may use his power to influence witnesses and derail the case.

Similarly, Mr. Sisodia had also failed in July to obtain bail in money laundering charges ar­ raigned against him in connection with the excise policy case.

He was arrested by the CBI on February 26 for alleged corruption in the formulation and imple­ mentation of the now­scrapped Delhi Excise Poli­ cy 2021­22 following several rounds of questioning.

In March, the trial court had dismissed Mr. Si­ sodia’s bail plea saying he was prima facie the “ar­ chitect” of the alleged scam and had played the “most important and vital role” in the criminal conspiracy related to alleged payment of advance kickbacks of nearly ₹100 crore meant for him and his colleagues in the Delhi government.

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