SC Judge Justice Sanjay Kumar recuses From Manish Sisodia's bail plea in excise policy case

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Sisodia, requested the bench to list the matter urgently, saying time is of essence.
Delhi's former Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, Manish Sisodia
Delhi's former Deputy Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, Manish Sisodia (File photo)

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court judge Justice Sanjay Kumar on Thursday recused himself from hearing the former Deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia's plea seeking to revive an earlier petition seeking bail in the Delhi excise policy case.

Sisodia moved the top court seeking to revive its earlier plea, which was disposed of by the SC earlier. Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Sanjay Karol were the two other judges on the Bench.

On Thursday, it was scheduled that the three-judge Bench of the top court, led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Sanjay Karol and Sanjay Kumar would hear the matter today. But, as Justice Kumar recused from hearing the case, citing personal reasons, the Court re-listed the matter in a week commencing July 15, Monday.

On Monday, the AAP leader, Sisodia moved the Apex court and filed an application to revive a disposed-of petition which was filed earlier seeking bail in the Delhi excise case.

It is significant to note that a two-judge Vacation Bench of the top court, led by Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Sandeep Mehta, refused to grant bail to the accused, Sisodia. The court also recorded the submission of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that a chargesheet will be filed in the matter by July 3.

On that occasion, the Court also granted Sisodia liberty to revive the bail application after the filing of the chargesheet. The top court clarified that it was not saying anything on the merits of the matter and also stated that Sisodia would have the liberty to file for bail afresh.

In this context, Sisodia, through his senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, mentioned his application before the Chief Justice of India for urgent listing citing the delay in trial.

To this, the CJI DY Chandrachud told Singhvi that he would look into the matter. Although, he did not give any date to hear it.

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Singhvi said “In Manish Sisodia's matter, he has been in jail for 16 months. The court said the trial must conclude, it hasn't even started.”

"I filed the SLP, (Special Leave Petition), and they gave liberty to revive after July 3rd. So I am now before this court," Singhvi submitted.

Sisodia is seeking bail in the Delhi excise case involving CBI and ED.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had registered the case against Sisodia in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor excise policy 2021-22, naming him as one of the accused in the case.

Sisodia had in the first week of May moved the Delhi High Court challenging the Rouse Avenue Court's April 30 order of dismissal of his bail in the Delhi liquor scam case, probed by the CBI and ED.

Sisodia is presently in judicial custody in both the cases registered by the CBI and the ED in the Delhi Excise Policy case.

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Singhvi submitted to the court that the former Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister is languishing in jail for even more than a year, as he was arrested on February 26, 2023, for the alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 following several rounds of questioning.

"He is innocent in the case. He has no role in the Delhi liquor case," he told the Court.

The prosecutor for the CBI, Pankaj Gupta, opposed the bail plea of Sisodia and said that the accused, Sisodia did not satisfy the rigours of grant of bail under the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering). He said that Sisodia is a powerful person with a "political clout".

Sisodia was denied bail by the trial court, Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court in both ED and CBI cases. The Supreme Court had also dismissed Sisodia's review petition, as he sought bail. His curative petition has also been dismissed. So far, he failed to get any relief from the courts in the case.

In March, the trial court had dismissed his bail plea saying he (Manish Sisodia) was prima facie the “architect” of the alleged scam and had played the “most important and vital role” in the criminal conspiracy related to alleged payment of advance kickbacks of nearly Rs 100 crore meant for him and his colleagues in the Delhi government.

The Supreme Court had on December 14 last year, in its order rejected his plea seeking review of its earlier decision of October 30, denying him bail in the case.

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