The Supreme Court has asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to clarify why the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was not made an accused in the case related to alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22. The court made this observation while hearing appeals filed by former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who is facing trial in separate cases being investigated by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding these alleged irregularities.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti expressed the need for clarity on the issue, as Sisodia is named as one of the beneficiaries of the money laundering offense, and the AAP is considered the main beneficiary, according to the ED. The court’s query came as a surprise, as Sisodia had not raised this point in his arguments. The matter was scheduled for further hearing on October 5, allowing the ED to respond.

Sisodia’s lawyers, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi and advocate Vivek Jain, had been presenting their case when the court raised this issue. ED will provide its response on the following day.

In his defense, Singhvi demonstrated that the decision-making process behind the policy involved multiple levels of government officials and decision-makers, including the excise department, a group of ministers, the Delhi cabinet, and the lieutenant governor’s office. He argued that it was not an individual decision but an institutional one, involving ten ministers and various government servants, with the lieutenant governor supervising the policy. Singhvi referred to cabinet notes that contributed to the draft policy, which was subsequently approved in November 2021.

The court expressed concerns about whether cabinet notes could be considered as evidence, given a constitution bench decision that restricts their consideration. The court asked the ED to determine whether this restriction applies to Delhi as well.

Advocate Vivek Jain emphasized that the documents in question were part of the charge sheet submitted by CBI and aimed to show that the alleged transaction involving Sisodia was a part of a complete chain of decisions leading to the policy’s creation. The new policy was released by Sisodia, who managed the excise department. ED had alleged that Sisodia was involved in generating proceeds of crime amounting to around ₹100 crore.

Sisodia’s defense argued that he was not named in any part of the evidence, and no money trail from the South lobby had been discovered. They objected to the rapid changes in statements by some of the accused in the case who later turned approvers and received bail. Singhvi stressed that the new policy disrupted cartelization and was opposed by existing liquor manufacturers who preferred the old regime.

The court was informed that the revenue projections under the new policy anticipated earnings of ₹55 crore from the license fee alone, compared to ₹69.15 crore from sales and license fees combined in the previous year, 2019-20.

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