Former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday sought bail from a Delhi court, saying he was neither a flight risk nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has found anything incriminating against him in its probe into the alleged irregularities relating to the excise policy, which, he added, was formulated 'purely in the normal course'.
Special Judge M K Nagpal, who deferred the hearing on Sisodia's bail plea till March 24 for clarification and submissions, meanwhile issued a notice to the Enforcement Directorate and sought its response by March 25.
The money-laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is an offshoot of the main case registered by the CBI.
During the hearing, which continued for more than an hour, the lawyers for the senior Aam Aadmi Party leader said there was no documentary evidence of him receiving kickbacks and the allegation that the accused destroyed documentary evidence was vague .
Senior advocates Dayan Krishnan and Mohit Mathur, appearing for Sisodia, said the accused cooperated in the probe and none of the searches led to the seizure of any incriminatory evidence and moreover, there was no further need for his custodial interrogation by the CBI.
The CBI, so far, has quizzed Sisodia in its custody for seven days.
The senior lawyers said Sisodia was not a flight risk and regarding the allegations that the accused manipulated the excise policy, there was no documentary evidence of receiving kickbacks.
They said changes in the excise policy were made purely in the normal course and that it was a government policy, which was approved by the Delhi lieutenant governor and the law secretary.
The lawyers also said that Sisodia's wife was suffering from an incurable disease, for which the medical treatment could only slow the degenerative condition, and that he was the only person to take care of his wife.
Opposing the bail plea, CBI's special public prosecutor (SPP) D P Singh said though Sisodia was not a flight risk, he was definitely in a position to influence witnesses and destroy evidence. If he is given the relief, the investigation will be compromised , Singh said.
We have only 36 days left to file the chargesheet. Till that time he (Sisodia) being released on bail will scuttle our investigation, the SPP said.
The prosecutor said Sisodia, who was dealing with an unprecedented 18 ministries, implemented the excise policy with high handedness in the way he and the representatives of the south group wanted.
A person is a saint till the time his irregularities are discovered, the SPP said. To this, Sisodia's advocates raised objections.
The SPP said Sisodia was upset over an expert committee report on the excise policy and that after seeing a draft cabinet note, he had flared up on an excise commissioner and called a public servant, whatever he could.
Regarding Sisodia's frequent changing of phones, Singh said these were not innocent actions and that phones were changed for the destruction of evidence. Along with phones, the files were also destroyed, the CBI prosecutor said.
He said the note which was put up in the cabinet along with the file containing the minutes of several meetings was missing. Besides staying in a Delhi hotel from March 14 to 17, 2021, the representatives of the south group also flew into the national capital by a chartered flight during the days of peak Covid-19, he said.
In the rejoinder submissions, the counsel for Sisodia said while dealing with policy decisions, it has to be kept in mind that merely because a second view was possible, it did not make the decision a crime.
"I am not holding any public post now. In any case, the LG is dealing with civil servants. The issue of control is with the Supreme Court now," one of the advocates said.
Sisodia is at present in the ED custody.
Earlier, in his bail application, Sisodia stated that he joined the investigation as and when called by the central agencies.
He further stated that no fruitful purpose would be served by keeping him in custody as all the recoveries have already been made, adding that the other accused in this case have already been granted bail.
The CBI on February 26 arrested Sisodia in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.
The ED arrested Sisodia on March 9 evening in Tihar jail, where he was lodged in connection with the case being probed by the CBI.