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From Arrest To Bail, Tracing AAP Leader Sanjay Singh's Journey In Delhi Liquor Policy Case

With his release, Sanjay Singh has become the first senior AAP leader to be granted regular bail in the money laundering case linked to liquor policy among other party leaders. His release might prove to be a essential morale boost for the party.

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PTI
AAP MP Sanjay Singh, who was behind bars since Oct 2023 in the liquor policy case, speaks after coming out of Tihar Jail following a Supreme Court order granting him bail, in New Delhi, Wednesday, April 3. Photo: PTI
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Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh was granted bail by the Supreme Court on April 2, after having been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with its money-laundering probe linked to the now-scrapped Delhi Excise policy case, in October, last year. Singh’s bail case was heard by a Bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna, Dipankar Datta and P B Varale while Congress leader and Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued on behalf of the AAP leader.

With his release, Sanjay Singh has become the first senior AAP leader to be granted regular bail in the money laundering case linked to liquor policy among his party leaders, CM Arvind Kejriwal, former deputy CM Manish Sisodia and former health minister Satyendar Jain.

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Who is Sanjay Singh?

One of the leaders who founded the party back in 2012, a part of AAP’s foremost decision-making body, Political Action Committee (PAC), and a member of the Rajya Sabha since 2018, Sanjay Singh has been a firebrand leader of the AAP, known for his oratory skills and ability to rile up crowds. He was part of the 2011 Indian Anti-corruption movement and had also participated in the RTI protests in 2016 along with Arvind Kejriwal. 

In the wake of Manish Sisodia’s arrest, AAP leaders including Sanjay Singh protested near the CBI office in February last year. Following his release from detention, he minced no words in lashing out at BJP saying the BJP was in an attempt to sully the image of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He further claimed that he would “have Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and industrialist Gautam Adani arrested within two hours”, if agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI were with him. 

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In April last year, Sanjay Singh had said that he would file a criminal defamation case against ED officials for "falsely" naming him in the excise policy case chargesheet. "The ED's attempt to implicate me in a fabricated case is nothing but a political move to suppress my voice against the Adani scam and the corrupt Modi government," Singh had said  during a press conference in the party office. A vocal critic of BJP’s policies, Singh was taken into custody in October, 2023 on money laundering charges linked to the Delhi Excise policy case. AAP leaders including Atishi had pointed out how the arrest was necessitated owing to Singh’s statements against the Government’s practices and policies.  

October to April: Arrest to Bail

The ED had claimed in October that Sanjay Singh was a key conspirator in the Delhi excise policy scam which benefited private entities in return for monetary gains. He had received Rs 2 crore of illegal money in dealings, and was closely associated with a number of accused or suspects in this case, including accused-turned-approver Dinesh Arora. In December 2023, a Delhi court had rejected Singh's bail application. During the arguments at the trial court, Singh had argued there were contradictions in Arora’s statements and other witnesses about bribing him. The ED had opposed Singh's bail stating the probe was still underway and, if released on bail, he could hamper the investigation, tamper with evidence, and influence the witnesses.

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In February 2024, the Delhi High Court rejected his bail plea and directed the trial court to expedite the trial proceedings. Singh had appealed against this judgment in the apex court. Manu Singhvi arguing for Singh placed in front of the bench arguments which pointed at the discrepancies in the statements against the AAP leader, establishing that no case was made out against him. Hearing Singhvi’s arguments, the bench told Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the ED, that no money had been recovered from the possession of Singh and the allegation of him receiving a stated bribe could be tested in the trial. 

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According to LiveLaw, Justice Khanna told the ASG to consider Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act ,before the break. "You have kept him in custody for 6 months. Dinesh Arora has not initially implicated him. Later on, in a statement, he does. No money has been recovered, the trace of money is not there because it was long back. Fact of the matter is money has not been recovered. Please keep in mind that if we are…with him, we are required to record in terms of section 45 that he has prima facie not committed an offense. That could have its own ramifications in trial,” he added.

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Following that, the ASG stated that the central agency would make a concession in the bail matter without getting into the merits of the case. 

Singh’s Return: Much-Needed Momentum for AAP

Many believe Sanjay Singh’s release might prove to be the morale boost that the party needed. Numerous analysts have pointed out how people finding it difficult to find a popular face representing the AAP camp following Kejriwal’s arrest in this crucial period preceding the elections, but with the return of a mass leader like Sanjay Singh, AAP is expected to have him lead the poll campaign in the coming days. AAP leaders have also expressed how Singh’s bail would give the party the perfect momentum in its protests against the arrest of CM Arvind Kejriwal and its run before the elections.

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Following his release Delhi cabinet minister, Atishi, hinted at how for two years, AAP leaders have been targeted in fake cases and arrested. "In the court proceedings, two important things have come before the people -- ED had no response when the Supreme Court asked where is the money trail; and that the entire case of the ED is based on approvers' statements who were pressured to give statements against Kejriwal," she said.

Singh’s wife said that the moment signified the 'victory of truth', but AAP would only celebrate when all its leaders are cleared in the case. "Until all three of my brothers, Arvindji, Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, come out of custody, this happiness is incomplete. This is the victory of truth. I had full faith in the judicial process," Anita said. 

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With Kejriwal, Sisodia and Jain still finding themselves in custody, Sanjay Singh is expected to be AAP’s guiding figure in the coming days. 

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