A Delhi court on Friday extended the Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody by five days of senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia, arrested in a money laundering case related to the excise policy, saying the physical custody of the accused appeared necessary for his further effective interrogation.
Special judge M K Nagpal allowed the anti-money laundering agency to interrogate the former Delhi deputy chief minister in custody till March 22.
The ED had sought Sisodia's custody for seven days.
The court, which heard the arguments put forth by the ED and Sisodia's lawyers on the AAP leader's custody, said in its nine-page order said that the physical custody of the accused appears to be necessary for his further effective interrogation, in light of the new or fresh incriminating facts or material which has surfaced during this period (of earlier seven-days ED custody) and also to confront him with the fresh physical records and digital data received or expected to be received as well as the witnesses or persons (cited by ED).
"...This court feels it necessary to remand the accused Manish Sisodia to ED custody for a further period of five days and, therefore, it is directed accordingly and the investigating officer (IO) of the case is being now directed to produce the accused before this court on March 22 at 2 pm," Special Judge Nagpal said.
The judge said the fresh remand of Sisodia will have the same terms and conditions, including his interrogation under CCTV coverage, as in the court's previous order on March 10.
However, it is desired that the IO shall complete all the interrogation and confrontations of the accused during this period, the judge said.
The court underlined that an investigation into an ED case is a complicated affair, where the role of multiple people or accused needed to be probed and a huge volume of the records or data was to be analysed.
'...Though it is not found specifically recorded in the remand application that further ED custody of the accused is required in connection with tracing out of proceeds of crime, it also cannot be ignored that the entire investigation of this case is guided only to achieve that goal and to find out the exact volume of proceeds of crime and the role of various persons involved in or connected with framing or implementation of the said policy,' it said.
The court said there was no merit in the submission by Sisodia's advocate that the earlier ED custody of Sisodia was not utilised properly and that the accused was interrogated for only 15 hours.
The court noted that according to ED's remand application, though Sisodia's multiple statements were recorded and he was also confronted with some people or witnesses, his interrogation and confrontations were not yet complete and the accused was required to be confronted with the various crucial information which had come on record.
'It has also been specifically submitted that during this period (of Sisodia's earlier custody), his mobile data has been extracted and his iCloud email dump has been taken and this email dump containing around 1.23 lakh emails is being analysed and it needs to be confronted with the accused and apart from this, one other email dump of the accused in possession of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is also to be received and put to the accused,' the court said.
The judge also noted that the application specifically stated the requirement of Sisodia's confrontation with Rahul Singh, former Excise Commissioner, C Arvind, Sisodia's former secretary, Dinesh Arora, approver in the CBI case, and accused Amit Arora, and all other people were summoned by the agency.
It has been stated that some fresh revelations have also been made by one other witness, namely Alok Srivastava (of Delhi excise department) which mandate confrontation of the accused with the witness C Arvind, the court said.
Earlier, Sisodia's counsel said there was not even a whisper in the ED's remand application that further custody is required to establish the proceeds of crime, which is the subject matter of investigation of the present case registered by the anti-money laundering agency.
Heavy security deployment was made inside and outside the Rouse Avenue Court premises.
The ED arrested Sisodia on March 9 in the Tihar Jail, where he was lodged in connection with a CBI case about alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.
The CBI had arrested Sisodia on February 26.