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Updated April 2nd, 2024 at 20:37 IST

Liquorgate: Why Sanjay Singh's Bail May Provide No Relief For Arvind Kejriwal, Others

Sanjay Singh's bail order might not provide significant assistance to other jailed AAP leaders, including Kejriwal.

Reported by: Digital Desk
 Liquorgate: Why Sanjay Singh's Bail May Provide No Relief For Arvind Kejriwal, Others
Liquorgate: Why Sanjay Singh's Bail May Provide No Relief For Arvind Kejriwal, Others | Image:ANI
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New Delhi: At a time when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is grappling with a leadership vacuum ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2024, the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to AAP leader Sanjay Singh in the Delhi excise policy-linked money laundering case after the Enforcement Directorate conceded that it has no objections. 

The bail to the Rajya Sabha member comes as a reprieve to the beleaguered Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the midst of Lok Sabha poll campaigning as its top leaders national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia are in jail in connection with the liquorgate case. However, Sanjay Singh's bail won't help Kejriwal and other AAP ministers lodged in Tihar in connection with the same case. The court, while hearing Singh's plea made it clear that the "bail can't be treated as precedent".   Therefore, this bail order might not provide significant assistance to other jailed AAP leaders, including Kejriwal.

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What Transpired in The Court?

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna, Dipankar Datta and P B Varale ordered the release of Singh, observing that no money had been recovered from his possession and there was no trace of it. The bench ordered that the AAP leader can continue with his political activities but cannot make any statements with regard to the case. Moreover, it said Singh will remain out on bail during the course of the entire trial and that the terms and conditions for the bail will be fixed by the special court. During the post-lunch session, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the Enforcement Directorate (ED), said he has taken instructions from the probe agency and it has no objections if Singh is enlarged on bail. "I am making the statement without going into the merits of the case and keeping all the rights and contentions open," he said.

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Taking note of the statement, the bench ordered, "In the morning session, ASG SV Raju was asked to obtain instructions. He states they have no objections if Sanjay Singh is released on bail in proceedings arising out of the FIR...In view of the statement made, we allow the present appeal and direct that Sanjay Singh be released on bail during the pendency of trial on terms and conditions set by the trial court." The bench said the concession of bail granted to Singh will not be treated as "precedent". Consequently, this bail order may not be of much help to other jailed AAP leaders, including Kejriwal.

The bench clarified that the bail was granted to Singh on the concession granted by the ED and not on merits. The top court was hearing Singh's plea challenging the denial of bail by the Delhi High Court and an appeal challenging his arrest and remand in the money laundering case. The bench in the morning session had asked Raju to take instructions on whether the ED needed further custody of Singh.

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The bench told the ASG that apart from the statements there are no implications and the approver, Dinesh Arora, who initially did not implicate him, has named him in the tenth statement. "No money has been recovered from his (Singh) possession and the Rs 2 crore bribe allegations can be tested in the trial. There is no trace of it. Maybe a lot of time has passed but all this can be examined in trial and tested in a witness box. He is in custody for six months," the bench said.

It said if the court were to grant bail to Singh on merits, then it would have to give a prima facie finding that he has committed no offence, given the mandate of Section 45 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). "This might have ramifications on the trial," the bench told Raju. The ASG said he would respond to the submissions of Singh against his arrest and remand in the post-lunch session. As soon as the bench assembled in the post-lunch session, Raju at the outset said the ED has no objection to the grant of bail to Singh, provided it is not made a precedent.

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During the hearing, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for Singh, said the AAP leader was arrested on the basis of approver Arora, who in the tenth statement recorded before the agency named him. While concluding his arguments on merit, he alleged that the ED had not objected to the bail of Arora after he had named Singh in his statement.

What Were The Allegations Against Sanjay Singh?   

Dinesh Arora, who turned into an approver in a money-laundering case associated with the Delhi excise policy, made allegations regarding connections to Singh. He asserted that he arranged Rs 82 lakh for AAP's Delhi assembly election campaign upon Singh's request. Additionally, he stated that Singh introduced him to Sisodia at a gathering at his restaurant, where he also encountered Sisodia and Kejriwal. Furthermore, the anti-corruption agency claimed that Arora handed over Rs 2 crore in cash at the residence of the Rajya Sabha MP in two instalments. 

The ED had claimed that Singh was involved in acquiring, possessing, concealing, dissipating and using proceeds of the crime generated from the alleged Delhi liquor scam pertaining to the policy period of 2021-22.

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The agency had also claimed that the AAP leader had gained illegal money or kickbacks which are proceeds of crime generated from the alleged liquor policy (2021-22) scam and that he has also played a role in conspiracy with others.

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Published April 2nd, 2024 at 20:37 IST

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