The Enforcement Directorate on Thursday filed a fresh chargesheet in the Delhi excise policy-linked money laundering case naming AAP leader and former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia as an accused in the case for the first time, official sources said.
Sisodia was arrested by the ED in this case on March 9 from Tihar Jail and he is currently in judicial custody.
The 51-year-old Aam Aadmi Party leader was first arrested by the CBI, which is also probing this case.
This is the fourth supplementary and overall fifth charge sheet or prosecution complaint filed in the case by the ED before a designated special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Delhi.
The about 270 page charge sheet has annexures running into 2,000 pages.
The agency has called Sisodia a “key conspirator” in this case. It had alleged, in the previous charge sheets, that the liquor policy ‘scam’ was a “conspiracy” undertaken by some of the big political leaders of the AAP and the so called ‘South Group’ comprising BRS leader K Kavitha, YSR Congress MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy and others who “used” proxies and dummies to conceal their involvement.
“On one hand it is Manish Sisodia and other top leaders of AAP and Vijay Nair who was working under the overall guidance and sanction of Manish Sisodia,” the agency claimed in an earlier filed charge sheet whose cognisance was taken by the court recently.
“The scam initiated with the drafting of the excise policy of 2021-22 by the AAP leaders, specifically by Manish Sisodia with an objective of generating illegal funds followed by a nexus/understanding between key players of the South Group and Manish Sisodia and thereafter managed by Vijay Nair, who is a representative of AAP, payment of advance kickbacks from the former to the latter in exchange of undue favours,” the ED said.
This was followed, it said, by usage of seemingly simple business entities for the ulterior motive of recouping and recovering the kickbacks (of Rs 100 crore allegedly paid by the South Group to the AAP) paid, it said.
Another aspect, it claimed in the charge sheet, of the scam involved various entities involved in conspiracy to form cartels to increase their profits illegally and in violation of the principles/objectives of the excise policy 2021-22.
It had alleged that this bribe fund was given by the ‘South Group’ to claim stake in the Delhi liquor market and the agency says this illegal money was used by the AAP to fund its 2022 Goa assembly polls campaign.
The federal agency has arrested 12 people including Sisodia in this case till now, in which it has said the probe is continuing.
In a related development, the Delhi High Court on Thursday sought response of the ED on Sisodia’s plea seeking bail in this case. Sisodia has filed the regular bail plea as well as an interim bail application on grounds of illness of his wife.
The CBI also opposed his interim bail plea, in the Delhi High Court claiming he suppressed the fact that his wife has already been discharged from hospital.
Sisodia’s counsel claimed there was no suppression of facts and the mentioning document placed before the court for urgent listing disclosed his wife has been discharged from the hospital but she needs constant care.
It is alleged by the ED and the CBI that the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.
The policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the PMLA.