Delhi excise policy case: HC refuses to extend interim bail of businessman Mahendru on medical grounds

The Delhi High Court Friday refused to extend the interim bail of liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru on medical grounds in a money laundering case related to the alleged Delhi excise policy ‘scam’, saying repeated extensions set a bad precedent.

The high court orally observed extension of interim bail was becoming an unending process and asked the jail superintendent concerned to take Mahendru into custody on the evening of September 4, when the tenure of his interim bail would expire. Mahendru is admitted to a private hospital here following a knee surgery.

It also directed the medical superintendent of AIIMS to constitute a board of doctors to examine the accused and file a report giving a definite opinion about his illness.

Mahendru was granted interim bail by the high court for six weeks on June 12 on medical grounds. He was directed to surrender before the HC on July 25.

He again approached the high court on July 24 and sought extension of the relief by six weeks on medical grounds. The court extended his interim bail till September 4.

On Friday, Mahendru’s counsel said the accused had got hurt in the knee and that he had undergone a surgery at a private hospital here on Thursday. He prayed that Mahendru’s interim bail be extended by three months as it will take him time to recover.

Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma said there is no doubt that every individual has a right to get proper medical treatment and the accused was no exception.

“The petitioner (Mahendru) was given concessions on several occasions . But at the same time extension of interim bail from time to time sets a very bad precedent and this court does not find any ground to extend the interim bail of the petitioner,” the high court said.

It added that Mahendru may remain admitted in the private hospital, and directed the jail superintendent to take his custody on September 4.

During the period of hospitalisation, his wife and children have been allowed to meet him. He has also been allowed to have home-cooked food. The high court, however, made it clear that his family members will not be permitted to carry mobile phones during the meetings and so would Mahendru.

The high court said Mahendru was at liberty to approach the trial court and seek regular bail on medical grounds.

During the hearing, senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, appearing for Mahendru, submitted his client got injured on August 16 and a knee surgery was performed on August 31. The lawyer said Mahendru is currently bed-ridden and the facts can be cross-checked with AIIMS, Delhi.

The ED’s counsel vehemently opposed the plea for extension of interim bail, saying it cannot be an unending process. The government lawyer said Mahendru has already been released from jail several times.

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The prosecution has accused 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 also given a wholesale licence along with some retail licences in the name of his relatives in violation of the norms.

Because of the alleged irregularities and violations, Mahendru made around Rs 50 crore, the prosecution has claimed.

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 licence holders. The Delhi government implemented the policy on November 17, 2021, but scrapped it in the end of September 2022 amid allegations of corruption.

Former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia is also an accused in the case.

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