It is a major setback for AAP leader Manish Sisodia, the Delhi High Court on Monday refused to grant him interim bail in a money laundering case linked to the alleged excise policy scam, observing that he is facing “extremely serious” allegations and there is a possibility of “influencing the witnesses”.
Sisodia had sought bail to attend to his ailing wife. Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma allowed him to meet her for one day at their residence or hospital at her convenience between 10 am and 5 pm but under certain conditions including that he will not interact with media.
“The court finds it very difficult to persuade itself to release the petitioner on interim bail for 6 weeks,” the judge said noting that the case concerns “extremely serious allegations” and there is a possibility of tampering if Sisodia, who held several positions in the city’s AAP government, is released.
“However, at the same time, this court feels that the petitioner should get an opportunity to see and meet his wife. Therefore, for one day, as per the convenience of Mrs Seema Sisodia, the petitioner be taken to his residence/hospital (if she is admitted to the hospital) from 10 am to 5 pm in custody,” said the court.
Sisodia was arrested in the CBI case on February 26 in connection with its probe into the excise policy after which he resigned as deputy chief minister of Delhi. He was subsequently arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 9 and is currently in judicial custody.
The court, in its order, clarified that during his visit, Sisodia shall not interact with media, meet persons other than his wife or family members and use any phone or internet.
It further directed the Commissioner of Delhi Police to ensure that there should not be any media gathering near the vicinity of his residence or the hospital where he is taken.
The court, which had earlier called for a report from LNJP Hospital about Sisodia’s wife, also suggested that she be examined by a board of doctors at AIIMS here. It directed that she should be given the best medical treatment.
The court noted the medical report from the LNJP Hospital said the general condition of Sisodia’s wife was stable and she required close monitoring.
“This court has also taken note of the serious degenerative disease from which Mrs Seema Sisodia, wife of the petitioner, is suffering from the last around two decades. This court would direct and expect that best of the medical treatment should be provided to Mrs.Seema Sisodia,” it said.
“Though, it is the choice of the patient and the members of her family that from where the treatment is to be taken, but this court as a guardian of the administration of justice would suggest that Mrs Seema Sisodia may be examined by a Board of Doctors to be constituted by the Medical Superintendent at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) which is a premier medical institute of this court,” it said.
In its 8-page order, Justice Sharma observed that the court is “always in a dilemma” when there are pressing humanitarian issues on one hand and serious issues going to the core of the administration of justice on the other but the totality of facts and circumstances in the present case did not make out a case for interim release of the former minister.
“The allegations in the present case are extremely serious in nature. Though this court does not allow itself to get influenced or overawed by the gravity of the allegations, at the same time, this court cannot forget the positions being held by the petitioner in the present dispensation and the nature of the case,” the court said.
The court while deciding the bail application in “inter alia held that there is a possibility of tampering/influencing the witnesses”, if the petitioner is released on bail.
“Taking into account the totality of facts and circumstances, this court, therefore, finds it very difficult to persuade itself to release the petitioner on interim bail for six weeks,” the court opined.
The former Delhi deputy chief minister had sought release on a temporary basis for six weeks, contending he was the sole caretaker of his ailing wife. His plea for regular bail in the matter is pending before the high court.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had opposed the plea for interim bail on grounds of the possibility of evidence tampering.
The ED lawyer also claimed Sisodia’s wife has been suffering from such a medical condition for the last 20 years.
The high court had earlier rejected Sisodia’s bail plea on May 30 in the corruption case filed by the CBI in the alleged excise policy scam, saying he is an influential person and the allegations against him are very serious in nature.
The Delhi government implemented the policy on November 17, 2021 but scrapped it at the end of September 2022 amid allegations of corruption.
In the CBI case, the high court has kept the interim bail plea pending for July.