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  India   All India  15 May 2024  AAP to Be Named Co-Accused in Excise Policy Case: Enforcement Directorate

AAP to Be Named Co-Accused in Excise Policy Case: Enforcement Directorate

Published : May 15, 2024, 1:41 am IST
Updated : May 15, 2024, 1:41 am IST

An ED official said that naming AAP as an accused party was an unprecedented move, but the probe agency has taken legal advice to back it

Enforcement Directorate. (Representational Image)
 Enforcement Directorate. (Representational Image)

NEW DELHI: The Enforcement Directorate, probing the excise policy case, told the Delhi high court on Tuesday that the Aam Aadmi Party will be named as a co-accused in the case in its next prosecution complaint.

The submission was made by the ED counsel while the high court was hearing former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia’s bail petition in the money laundering case pertaining to the excise policy.

“The AAP is going to be made a co-accused in the next prosecution complaint (chargesheet) to be filed in the case,” the ED's counsel contended before Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma. The high court, which was hearing arguments on Mr Sisodia’s bail pleas filed in the money laundering and corruption cases lodged by the ED and the CBI, respectively, has reserved its orders.

Another petition by AAP national chief and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal contending that a political party is not covered under the anti-money laundering law is already pending in the high court.

While upholding Mr Kejriwal's arrest in the case, the high court had recently held that the rigours of Section 70 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which deals with companies, are attracted in this case. The ED had likened the AAP to a company and Mr Kejriwal to its director.

Last month, it was reported that the ED was likely to file its latest prosecution complaint -- equivalent to a supplementary chargesheet -- against the AAP along with Mr Kejriwal, possibly before May 15, meeting the 60-day deadline since the March 15 arrest of Telangana MLC and co-accused in the case K. Kavitha.

A senior ED official said that naming the AAP as an accused party was an unprecedented move, but the probe agency has taken legal advice to back it.

During the chief minister’s remand hearing in a Delhi court in March, the ED had explicitly alleged that the AAP “has committed the offence of money laundering through Mr Kejriwal…”

Earlier, the ED disclosed before the Supreme Court that it is contemplating making the AAP an accused party in the case and invoking Section 70 of the PMLA to probe the aspect of vicarious liability.

In the high court on Tuesday, the ED's lawyer said there are concerted efforts by the accused persons to delay the process of framing charges in the case. The CBI, which adopted the submissions made by the ED, also opposed Mr Sisodia's bail plea in the corruption case and said the delay was totally attributable to the accused persons.

While seeking bail for Mr Sisodia, his counsel submitted that the ED and the CBI are still arresting people in the money laundering and corruption case and there is no question of an early conclusion of the trial. Mr Sisodia’s lawyer Mohit Mathur said the trial court judge, while dismissing his bail plea, has not shown how the AAP leader has contributed to the delay.

Mr Mathur said: “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 that out of 38 applications, 13 were filed by Mr Sisodia. But the court has not said how my application contributed to the delay.”

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

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. He said the investigation officer needs to be there in the court almost every day. He argued that the offence of money laundering has been held to be as grave an offence as terrorism.

“The conspiracy was to see that the AAP makes wrongful gains in the form of bribes and, in the process, ensures additional benefits to the persons who gave bribes. The present accused (Mr Sisodia) was part of the GoM as he was a member of the highest body of the party. He was holding the position of deputy CM and was minister incharge of the excise department,” the ED's counsel argued and added that the agency has digital evidences and statements of bribe givers that the accused reached 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 that in the last two months, he has only inspected 100 documents and 1,600 out of 1,700 remained to be inspected by him. He said: “Where most of the accused persons have said that they have inspected the documents and only digital devices are left, I am showing the concerted effort on the part of other accused persons in not letting the arguments on framing of charges 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... Accused number 31 is the spokesperson of this party, which will also be made an accused in the next prosecution complaint."


Tags: enforcement directorate, aam aadmi party (aap), delhi high court, manish sisodia
Location: India, Delhi