The Supreme Court today told Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to go to the high court if he wants to challenge his arrest by the CBI in the Delhi liquor policy case.
Mr Sisodia’s lawyer Abhishek Singhvi said his arrest was illegal as his name was not in the CBI chargesheet and no unaccounted cash was found in searches.
The CBI’s allegation that he was not cooperating in the investigation was a weak excuse, said Mr Sisodia’s lawyer.
To this, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said, “Go to the high court. Our doors are open, but we are not ready to hear it at this stage.”
“This will be a very bad precedent. You can’t do this just because you’re in Delhi,” Justice PS Narasimha said, referring to Mr Sisodia’s request to rule his arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) “illegal”.
Earlier today when the matter came up for hearing in the Supreme Court, Mr Singhvi cited the court’s judgment in the Vinod Dua case as the reason why Mr Sisodia should be given relief, after which the court posted the matter to 3.45 pm.
The Supreme Court in June 2021 cancelled a sedition case against journalist Vinod Dua over his criticism of the centre’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Dua had come to the Supreme Court directly.
Later this evening, when the Supreme Court took up Mr Sisodia’s request again, it said the Vinod Dua case has no relevance whatsoever with his case as the journalist’s matter was about freedom of speech and expression while his case is about alleged corruption.
After the hearing, Mr Sisodia’s lawyer said they have withdrawn their request to the Supreme Court and will go to the trial court. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in a statement, however, said they will challenge Mr Sisodia’s arrest in the Delhi High Court.
A Delhi court yesterday gave the CBI Mr Sisodia’s custody for five days. The central agency told the city court it needs time to question him over alleged corruption in making the new liquor policy, which was scrapped after Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena flagged it.
The CBI told the Delhi court that Mr Sisodia has been giving evasive replies to their questions and is unable to explain at least six problematic provisions in the liquor policy that were not part of the first draft.
The CBI said the changes were made at the behest of a liquor lobby in exchange for kickbacks to the tune of Rs 30 crore.
Delhi’s ruling AAP, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and opposition parties in the centre including the Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party have condemned the CBI over Mr Sisodia’s arrest. The AAP said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party, the BJP, are scared of Mr Kejriwal and Mr Sisodia’s “rise” and are trying hard to sabotage their plans for the national election next year.
The Trinamool Congress, taking a swipe at PM Modi, said the BJP is left with only a few allies, namely “ED, CBI, I-T”, referring to the Enforcement Directorate and the income tax department, apart from the agency that arrested Mr Sisodia.
The BJP denied the centre has been using the CBI to harass the AAP leaders. The BJP said Mr Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s Education Minister and claims to have made excellent policies to improve schools, cannot hide alleged corruption behind the safety of work done on the education front.