In a recent turn of events, former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia has approached the Supreme Court seeking a review of its order denying him bail in corruption and money laundering cases related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.
The Supreme Court had previously refused to grant him bail, citing evidence that tentatively supported the accusation against him.
The Allegations and Denial of Bail
Manish Sisodia has been accused of facilitating “windfall gains” of ₹338 crore to wholesale liquor dealers, a charge supported by evidence as per the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti termed several charges levelled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against him as debatable.
However, it also stated that one clear ground or charge in the complaint filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering (PML) Act was free from perceptible legal challenge, with the facts tentatively supported by material and evidence.
The excess commission/fee earned by wholesale distributors, amounting to ₹338 crore, has been deemed an offence under section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Supreme Court bench established that this amount was earned within a span of ten months and could not be disputed.
It further noted that the new excise policy was designed to provide windfall gains to select distributors in exchange for kickbacks and bribes, implicating Manish Sisodia in the conspiracy.
The Role of Middleman and Arrest
An alleged middleman named Dinesh Arora claimed to have paid a bribe of ₹2.20 crore to Manish Sisodia.
However, the bench clarified that this claim was not mentioned in the charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), making it difficult to classify the alleged payment as a “proceed of crime” under the PML Act.
Manish Sisodia was arrested by the CBI on February 26 for his alleged involvement in the scam. He has been in custody since then.
The Enforcement Directorate also arrested him in a money-laundering case stemming from the CBI FIR on March 9, after questioning him in Tihar jail.
As a result of these charges, Manish Sisodia resigned from the Delhi cabinet on February 28.
The Alleged Corruption and Denials
According to investigating agencies, the new excise policy implemented by the Delhi government resulted in arbitrary profit margin increases for wholesalers from 5% to 12%. It is alleged that this policy favored those ineligible for liquor licenses and led to cartelization.
The Delhi government, as well as Manish Sisodia, have vehemently denied any involvement in corruption and have stated that the new policy would have actually contributed to increased revenue.
However, with the accusations and evidence against him, Manish Sisodia’s pursuit of bail has become a high-stakes legal battle.