Excise policy case: SC judge recuses from Manish Sisodia's pleas for revival of bail petitions

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New Delhi, Jul 11 (PTI) Supreme Court judge Justice Sanjay Kumar on Thursday recused himself from hearing AAP leader Manish Sisodia's pleas seeking to revive his bail petitions in the excise policy-related corruption and money laundering cases.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna, Sanjay Karol and Sanjay Kumar said another bench in which Justice Kumar is not a member will take up Sisodia's two separate pleas for reviving his bail petitions in cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case.

As soon as the matter was taken up for hearing, Justice Khanna said, "Our brother has some difficulty. He will not like to hear this matter for personal reasons." Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Sisodia, requested the bench to list the matter urgently, saying time is of essence.

He said the trial has not yet commenced in both the cases.

The bench said another bench will take it up on July 15.

On July 8, the top court agreed to list Sisodia's plea after Singhvi said an application has been filed for revival of a disposed of petition which was filed seeking bail in the cases.

The plea said the law officer, appearing for the probe agencies, told the bench that the charge sheet and prosecution complaint in the main excise policy case and the linked money laundering matter will be filed on or before July 3.

"In the Manish Sisodia matter, he has been in jail for 16 months. The court said the trial must conclude, it hasn't started. I filed the special leave petition (SLP), they gave liberty to revive after July 3. The court gave liberty to list...," Singhvi had submitted.

On June 4, the top court refused to entertain the bail pleas of Sisodia in cases lodged by the CBI and the ED in connection with the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam.

While declining the bail, the bench on June 4 said Sisodia can revive his petitions for bail after the ED and the CBI file their final prosecution complaint and charge sheet respectively in the cases involving alleged corruption and money laundering.

A prosecution complaint is the ED's equivalent of a charge sheet.

A vacation bench of justices Aravind Kumar and Sandeep Mehta had noted the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED and the CBI, that the central probe agencies would file their final prosecution complaint and charge sheet by July 3.

"In the light of the said submissions made and having regard to the fact that the period of '6-8 months' fixed by this court by order dated October 30, 2023 having not come to an end, it would suffice to dispose of these petitions with liberty to the petitioner to revive his prayer afresh after filing of the final complaint/charge-sheet as assured by Solicitor General," the bench said in its order.

It added in the event of such a bail application being filed, the same would be considered on its own merits as already observed by this court in the October 30, 2023 order.

Sisodia had earlier moved the apex court challenging the Delhi High Court's May 21 verdict which dismissed his bail pleas in the cases probed by the two central agencies.

The former Delhi chief minister had challenged in the high court a trial court's April 30 order by which it had rejected his bail applications in the cases involving alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.

On October 30 last year, the top court denied him bail in the corruption and money laundering cases related to the alleged Delhi excise policy "scam", saying the accusation of "windfall gains" of Rs 338 crore to wholesale liquor dealers was "tentatively supported" by evidence.

While dismissing the regular bail plea, the top court gave him liberty to approach the courts for relief if there was a change in the circumstances or trial got protracted.

Sisodia was arrested by the CBI on February 26, 2023 for his alleged role in the liquor policy case.

The ED arrested him in the money laundering case stemming from the CBI FIR on March 9, 2023.

He resigned from the Delhi cabinet on February 28, 2023. PTI MNL MNL KSS KSS

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