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Sanjay Singh of the AAP is granted bail in the Delhi Excise Policy case by the Supreme Court

Sanjay Singh, the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Tuesday in the Delhi liquor policy case. This came after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) declared that Singh’s custody was no longer necessary.

Singh’s release on bail was mandated by a bench consisting of Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Dipankar Datta, and Prasanna B. Varale while the case was pending. Prior to the lunch break, the Court had instructed Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju to find out whether Singh needed more detention.

In the afternoon, ASG Raju stated that even though the ED had a debatable case, it was prepared to give in, and Singh might be freed on bond. Singh’s parole was granted by the ED due to a concession made earlier by the Supreme Court.

Judge Datta informed ASG Raju at the hearing that, given Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act’s mandate, the top court may have to rule in Singh’s favour if it decides to grant bail to him on the basis of merit (PMLA).

According to Section 45 of the PMLA, a court can only free an accused person if it is convinced that there are good reasons to believe he is innocent of the crime and that he is unlikely to commit another while out on bond. The Court requested that the ED take into account the potential effects of any observations in Singh’s favour on the case as a whole, particularly the

“Mr. Raju, kindly remember that we must comply with Section 45 and observe in the petitioner’s favor. Please be aware of the ramifications of this during the trial. Thus, find out whether you require further custody,” it said. The Court had additionally noted that in his preliminary remarks, businessman Dinesh Arora, the case’s accused-turned-approver, had not named Singh.

In the Delhi excise policy case, Singh had filed a bail application, which the bench was now considering. The case is also associated with Singh’s previous suit contesting his remand in the matter. On October 4, 2023, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) detained Singh in connection with a money laundering investigation, alleging that Singh had a hand in creating and enforcing the now-repeated Delhi Excise Policy.

The regulation, according to ED, was designed to help certain liquor producers, distributors, and retailers. Singh’s request for bail had been denied by a trial judge on December 22. On February 9, the Delhi High Court denied his request for release. Following this, he petitioned the highest court.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing Singh, stated during the hearing today that Singh was not initially mentioned in the case. The Court was informed that the reason for his detention was the claim that Arora had given ₹1 crore to an individual associated with Singh. Singhvi went on to say that the approver’s assertions have gotten better with time.

“After my news conference, they (the ED) launched an attack on me, Singh. “Maybe my press conference was stupid, but in a free country, you can be stupid and vocal,” the senior attorney argued. The Court deliberated on a legal query about the PMLA and the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act during the course of the debates.

It inquired as to whether the ED might attach the bribery amount—the subject of the PC Act offence—in PMLA proceedings. The Court explained that the question might not be pertinent to the current situation. “If it is a separate and distinct offence, then PMLA is really forfeiture proceedings,” the Court stated.

“Hypothetical question: if the bribe amount is returned, will PMLA (the case) survive?” The Court further inquired as to whether an earlier attachment was required in order for the ED to file a complaint. “I could not find an answer in PMLA.”

The Delhi Lieutenant General VK Saxena’s 2022 accusation, which claims anomalies in the formulation of the Delhi Excise Policy for 2021–2022, is the basis for the prosecution against Singh and other AAP leaders.

According to the charge, during the drafting of the excise policy, leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAM), including former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and other unidentified private persons or entities, plotted a criminal conspiracy. It was claimed that the conspiracy entailed “intentionally” leaving or creating policy gaps.

Following the bidding process, these loopholes were purportedly intended to help specific liquor producers, distributors, and retailers. Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader K. Kavitha and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were recently taken into custody in connection with the matter. Sisodia, the AAP’s communications coordinator The other leaders that the ED has detained include Vijay Nair. They are all being held in Tihar jail under judicial custody.

Ahir Mitra
Ahir Mitra

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