AAP to be made accused in money laundering case: ED to Delhi HC

The ED's submission was made while opposing the bail plea of former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann at an AAP roadshow in Delhi (photo: PTI)
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann at an AAP roadshow in Delhi (photo: PTI)


The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday contended before the Delhi High Court that it will make the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) an accused in the money laundering case stemming out of the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.

The ED's submission was made while opposing the bail plea of former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in the money laundering case. "AAP is going to be made a co-accused in the next prosecution complaint (charge sheet) to be filed in the case," ED's counsel contended before justice Swarana Kanta Sharma.

The high court, which was hearing arguments on Sisodia's bail pleas filed in the money laundering and corruption cases lodged by the ED and CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) respectively, reserved its order.

It is pertinent to mention that a petition by AAP national chief Arvind Kejriwal contending that a political party is not covered under the anti-money laundering law is pending in the high court.

Recently, the high court, while upholding Kejriwal's arrest in the case, had held that the rigours of section 70 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which deals with companies, are attracted in this case. The ED had likened AAP to a company with Kejriwal as its director.

The ED's lawyer further said there are concerted efforts by accused persons to delay the process of framing of charges in the case. The CBI, which adopted the submissions made by ED, also opposed the AAP leader's bail plea in the corruption case and said the delay was totally attributable to the accused.

While seeking bail, Sisodia's counsel submitted that the ED and CBI are still arresting people in the money laundering and corruption case and there is no question of early conclusion of the trial.

Senior advocate Mohit Mathur, representing Sisodia, said the trial court judge, while dismissing the bail plea, has not shown how the AAP leader has contributed to the delay.

"I had filed an application to physically meet my wife. Thereafter, I moved an application to sign a cheque. How does it delay the trial? How have I contributed to the delay in the proceedings? The trial court has said out of 38 applications, 13 were filed by Sisodia. But the court has not said how my application contributed to the delay," he argued.

"Post dismissal of my earlier bail, three accused have gotten some relief from the Supreme Court. Benoy Babu in ED case. Sanjay Singh, again in ED case and Arvind Kejriwal most recently. There is no threat as far as my running away is concerned. I (Sisodia) have been in custody for 14.5 months," counsel said.

Showing the conduct of the accused persons, the ED counsel said 250 pleas have been filed before the trial court despite there being only 17 arrests. The investigation officer needs to be present in court almost every day, he said.

He further argued that the offence of money laundering has been held to be as grave as terrorism and other serious offences.

"The conspiracy was to see that AAP makes wrongful gains in the form of bribes and in the process ensure additional benefits to the persons who gave bribes. The present accused (Sisodia) was part of GoM, he was the member of highest body of the party, he was holding position of deputy CM and was minister in charge of the excise department," ED's counsel argued and added that the agency has digital evidence and statements from bribe givers that the accused reached out to them.

He contended that the bribe money was used by the party in the Goa elections.

Elaborating on the point of delay, the ED counsel referred to one of the accused persons and said in the last two months, he has only inspected 100 documents and 1,600 of 1,700 remained to be inspected.

“Where most of the accused persons have said they have inspected the documents and only digital devices are left, I am showing the concerted effort on part of the other accused persons in not letting the arguments on framing of charges to commence.

"The delay will benefit this present accused. I am showing the conduct of the accused persons. They are conducting it in a concerted manner," the ED lawyer said.

"Accused no. 31 comes forward and says that in the last two months I have inspected only 100 documents, 1,600 out of 1,700 remain to be inspected. Accused no. 31 is the spokesperson of this party which will also be made an accused in the next prosecution complaint," he stated.

In the high court, Sisodia has challenged a trial court's 30 April order by which his bail petitions were dismissed on the grounds that the stage was not right for granting bail.

The trial court dismissed Sisodia's bail pleas in the corruption and money laundering cases lodged by the CBI and ED respectively in connection with alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.

The beneficiaries diverted "illegal" gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection, the probe agencies have alleged. According to the CBI and ED, irregularities were committed while modifying the excise policy and undue favours extended to licence holders.

Sisodia was arrested by the CBI on 26 February 2023 for his alleged role in the "scam". The ED arrested him in the money laundering case stemming from the CBI FIR on 9 March 2023. Sisodia resigned from the Delhi cabinet on 28 February 2023.

The Delhi government implemented the excise policy on 17 November 2021, but scrapped it at the end of September 2022 amidst corruption allegations.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines