Supreme Court Denies Bail To Businessman In Delhi Liquor Policy Case

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The Supreme Court has dismissed the bail application of liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru in a money laundering case related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam which he had sought on health grounds.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti perused the report of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, which said Sameer Mahendru was not suffering from any serious ailment.

The top court had on December 11 asked the AIIMS to constitute a medical board to examine Sameer Mahendru, who claimed he was suffering from various ailments including back and knee problems.

The bench had also asked the AIIMS to specify in its report whether he requires any treatment and if it can be provided in jail.

On December 15, having considered the medical report, the bench told senior advocate Siddharth Dave, who was appearing for Sameer Mahendru, “Now, we have a report of AIIMS. It says there is nothing serious.” “What kind of report is this? Doctors have given their report without even doing the MRI scan,” Mr Dave retorted.

The bench curtly told Mr Dave it is not going to doubt the report of the premier hospital.

“We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned judgment and hence, the special leave petition is dismissed. We, however, clarify that the impugned judgment and the dismissal of the present special leave petition will not have any bearing on the application for grant of regular bail, as and when, filed and decided,” the bench said in its order.

The top court was hearing Sameer Mahendru’s appeal against the Delhi High Court’s October 19 order denying him bail in the case.

The high court had said his right to health care cannot be allowed to overshadow the pressing need to investigate fairly.

It had observed that Sameer Mahendru, whose one of the grounds for seeking bail was his bad medical condition, was not suffering from any life-threatening condition or sickness or infirmity which involved danger to his life and for which treatment cannot be provided to him in jail.

Sameer Mahendru was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on September 28, 2022, in the money laundering case.

The high court had said the allegations against the businessman were that he was one of the main conspirators and a key player in the formulation of the excise policy and its implementation, and was also involved in creating a cartel of manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers.

It had noted that Sameer Mahendru was accused of having earned huge profits totalling around ₹ 192 crore against a meagre investment of ₹ 15 crore in his firm M/s Indo Spirits. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has called it the proceeds of crime.

The prosecution has accused Sameer Mahendru of being one of the major beneficiaries of the violations in the excise policy as he was not only running an alcoholic beverage manufacturing unit but was also given a wholesale license along with some retail licenses in the name of his relatives in violation of the norms.

The money laundering case stems from a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) FIR.

According to the CBI and the ED, the alleged irregularities were committed while modifying the excise policy, and undue favours were extended to license holders. The Delhi government implemented the policy on November 17, 2021, but scrapped it at the end of September 2022 amid allegations of corruption.

Former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia is also an accused in both cases and is in jail under judicial custody.

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