Delhi court extends CBI custody of Manish Sisodia by two days; bail plea to be heard on March 10
A Delhi court on Saturday extended the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody of former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia by two more days in the alleged Delhi excise policy case.
Special CBI judge MK Nagpal, however, directed the investigating agency not to ask the same questions to Sisodia.
"Please don't ask same questions again and again. If you have something new ask him," the Court said.
This was after Sisodia told the Court that CBI was causing him mental harassment by asking the same questions over and over again.
"They are not using third degree. But sitting for eight to nine hours and answering same questions again and again, that too, is mental harassment," Sisodia said.
The Court then told the CBI officers not to ask repetitive questions to Sisodia and to conduct his medical examination regularly.
On Friday, Sisodia had also filed for bail before the Rouse Avenue Court.
The bail plea will be heard by the Court on March 10.
A Delhi court had, on February 27, remanded Sisodia to CBI custody till today in the case after he was arrested on February 26 in connection with the 2021 Excise policy.
The Supreme Court had also refused to grant him relief, saying Sisodia has alternative remedies.
Sisodia was arrested by the CBI after an interrogation that lasted nearly eight hours.
The CBI has alleged that Sisodia and other members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) granted liquor licenses to certain traders in exchange for bribes.
It has been alleged that the policy was tweaked in a manner that benefited certain traders and kickbacks were received in exchange for the same.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI registered cases in relation to the alleged scam after Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe based on a report by the Delhi Chief Secretary. The report claimed that the Deputy Chief Minister violated statutory provisions and notified a policy that had significant financial implications.
Although Sisodia was not named in the CBI's chargesheet, the probe remained open against him and some others.
The AAP has denied the allegations and maintained that Sisodia is innocent.
It is Sisodia's stance that the policy and the changes made in it were approved by the LG and that CBI is now going after the policy decisions of an elected government.
The matter had travelled to Supreme Court as well when Sisodia challenged his arrest. However, the apex court refused to entertain his plea and asked him to approach the Delhi High Court first.
During the hearing today before the special court, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Pankaj Gupta appearing for the CBI, said that the custody of Sisodia should be extended for three more days since Sisodia was not cooperating with the probe.
"He is still non cooperative. We also need to examine some more people," the SPP said.
"Kitna time interrogate kiya (how long did you interrogate him)," the judge asked.
"Almost daily. He had moved Supreme Court also. A lot of time was wasted in that. We need three more days," the SPP said.
Senior Advocates Dayan Krishnan and Mohit Mathur argued against extension of CBI custody.
Krishnan said that non-cooperation cannot be a ground for extension of remand.
"What is the difference between day 1 and today? At the end of the day, non cooperation cannot be a ground for remand. They cannot say we will wait till he confesses. They should have completed the investigation. Their failure to complete investigation can't be a ground for remand," Krishnan said.
He also highlighted the delay in arrest.
"Raids have been conducted at my residence and Delhi Police. So many months, I was outside. Suddenly they come and say we will trace all these documents. Supreme Court judgments and Delhi High Court Rules contemplate that remand is an exception," he contended.
Mathur also echoed Krishnan's submissions.
"High Court has said that every remand has to be justified. Technically under law, only 24 hours are (to be) given to them. The High Court has said that at the time of remand, consideration of bail is automatic," Mathur submitted.
Mathur also highlighted Sisodia's wife's medical condition.
"In this case, while considering all these things, my wife's medical condition has been brushed aside. She is basically a vegetable and her body is degenerating," he stated.