In a big relief to Aam Admi Party ahead of the MCD polls, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has not included name of deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in its chargesheet on the alleged liquor scam that the central probe agency has been investigating for months.
The chargesheet that was filed in Delhi’s Rouse Avenue court before the special CBI judge MK Nagpal however names seven persons that include the AAP communication-in-charge Vijay Nair. The CBI however, as per the reports of India Today confirmed that their investigation against Sisodia will go on.
Along with Nair, the chargesheet also names businessman Abhishek Boinpally, his aide Arun Pillai, Mutthu Gautam, liquor baron Sameer Mahendru along with two public servants who were formerly employed at excise department.
Notably, the CBI said that the investigation related to the role of public servants in conspiring with the license holders and the money trails related to it are still pending and it will soon file a supplementary chargesheet in this case.
CBI had earlier applied to the Delhi HC to cancel the bail granted to Nair and Boinpally by a trial court. Here is what have transpired since then.
What did the HC say on the CBI petition?
Yesterday, the Delhi High Court asked Nair and Boinpally to file their responses to the CBI petition that asked for annulation of their bails granted by the trial court. However, even after bail both of them are behind the bars as ED had taken their custody in a case related to money-laundering in excise policy.
As the CBI was pressing for the cancellation of bail, the HC said, “They are already in custody (in the ED case). Why do you want a stay on that order? What is the hurry? Let them file a reply, then we will see.”
CBI’s counsel Nikhil Goel told the HC that as the statutory period of 60 days since the first arrest, within which the agency is supposed to submit the chargesheet would be over on Friday, they would file it soon.
Goel called the ground of granting them bail by the trial court ‘perverse’ and said, “By way of the impugned order, the special judge has not only granted concession of bail to the respondent accused in an extremely serious and wide-ranging economic offence, but this discretion has been exercised at a very crucial stage of investigation.”
What are the CBI allegations?
It its petition it mentioned that during investigation they found that Rs. 30 crores had been received in Delhi at the instance of Nair while another Rs. 100-150 crores were about to reach the capital. CBI said it was looking into who brought the money, what was being done with it and what the person got in exchange of such a huge amount.
The CBI noted that as it started the investigation enquiring upon the reports of the Chief Secretary, it found a conspiracy had been hatched by Nair who was collecting money from the liquor barons in lieu of giving them undue benefits through making changes in the liquor excise policy that was implemented by Delhi government in November, 2021 and was scrapped in September this year, soon after the allegations of corruptions were pressed against it.
What did the Trial Court say while granting bail to Nair and Bonipally?
Notably, while granting the bail to Nair and Boinpally, the trial court said that the charges under which they were booked could bring maximum punishment of seven years’ imprisonment and thus cannot be considered severe enough to deny them the relief.
Another matter of interest is the FIR by the CBI as the trial court noted didn’t mention that Nair and Boinpally committed any substantive crime, rather they were alleged to be a part of criminal conspiracy.
This observation of the trial court goes with the petition filed by the CBI in the High Court to cancel their bails. According to PTI, it said this is a case of conspiracy sought to be carried out in an extremely convoluted manner with a clear purpose of making an attempt that the investigation, if any, does not reach the real culprits.
What is the stance of AAP and the Defence Counsel?
The intent of the CBI certainly had been challenged by the counsels of Nair and Boinpally. Representing the two accused, senior advocate Rebeca John told the court that the whole jurisprudence of the country had been changed- now jail is the rule not bail.
She also noted how both of the accused had been immediately arrested after their bail in the trial court by ED. She said, “This is how the agencies work. The agencies act in tandem.”
The allegations could find its political echo in the statement given by AAP when Nair was called for questioning by CBI on September 28. In an official statement, AAP accused BJP of conspiracy and said, “Vijay Nair was called for questioning over the last few days and was pressured to take the name of Manish Sisodia. When he refused to do that, he was threatened with arrest. His house was raided twice in the last one month but nothing was found. This is a part of ongoing BJP’s attempt to crush AAP and obstruct AAP’s Gujarat campaign.”
However, since then, CBI had made several arrests. It had though earlier questioned Manish Sisodia as well besides raiding his house, nothing substantive came out of it to include his name in the chargesheet, reports say.