Excise case: Delhi court sends Dy CM Manish Sisodia to 5-day CBI custody

NEW DELHI: A special court sent Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to five-day CBI remand on Monday after the agency sought his custody for effective interrogation to unravel the alleged scam in the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22.

Special judge M K Nagpal passed the order on a plea of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which produced the AAP leader before him a day after his arrest and sought his five-day custody.

There was a heavy security presence in and outside the Rouse Avenue Courts premises.

During the more-than-an-hour-long hearing, Sisodia’s counsel said that it was the lieutenant governor who had approved the changes in the excise policy and that the central probe agency was going after the elected government.

“I can’t do anything. It has to be approved by appropriate authority,” he submitted.

Sisodia claimed that there was no evidence against him and opposed the CBI’s plea for his remand.

“I (Sisodia) am the finance minister. I’ve to present the budget…what changed yesterday that the finance minister was to be placed under custody? Was he not available for next days? Or was this arrest done for ulterior motive? This case is an assault on an individual as well as the institution. Remand will send a message, this is a fit case for declining remand,” Sisodia’s counsel told the court.

He submitted that Sisodia acted as a member of the Delhi government and hence the decision can neither be attributed to him nor can he be questioned.

The counsel for the probe agency submitted that the arrested minister’s custody was required for effective interrogation in the case.

Sisodia claimed that he had no role in the case but the probe showed he personally took decisions, the CBI submitted.

Sisodia’s counsel, while opposing the probe agency’s plea for custody, submitted that the CBI says he changed his cell phones, but that is not a crime.

The counsel said the policy was implemented after taking suggestions even from the Delhi lieutenant governor and that since it required consultations, there was no chance of conspiracy.

“I have tried to keep everything open,” he said.

Sisodia was represented by senior advocates Dayan Krishnan, Mohit Mathur and Siddharth Aggarwal.

The agency informed the court that further investigation is ongoing in the case.

The CBI had earlier this month interrogated another Delhi minister, Satyendar Jain, in Tihar jail in connection with the case after taking permission from the judge.

Jain is currently lodged in Tihar jail in connection with a money laundering case registered by Enforcement Directorate. He is not an accused in the excise scam case.

The CBI had also quizzed AAP’s communication in-charge Vijay Nair, who is also lodged in Tihar jail in connection with the excise policy money laundering case being probed by the ED.

Nair was earlier granted bail in the CBI case by the court in the excise scam.

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