Excise policy case: ED opposes in Delhi HC plea by AAP leader Sanjay Singh against arrest

The Enforcement Directorate Thursday opposed in the Delhi High Court a plea by AAP leader Sanjay Singh challenging his arrest in a money laundering case related to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy, asserting a “clear cut” case was made out against him.

Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the federal anti-money laundering agency, said the AAP Rajya Sabha member was apprehended observing due compliance with law, and his plea, which was a bail application in the “guise” of writ petition, was not maintainable.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma reserved the order on Singh’s petition after hearing the rival parties. The order is likely to be pronounced on Friday.

Singh, who was arrested by the ED on October 4, had moved the high court last week challenging his arrest and remand in the money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in the scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.

The ED’s money laundering case stems from the CBI FIR.

According to the CBI and the ED, irregularities were committed while modifying the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 and undue favours were extended to licence holders.

It alleged Singh played a key role in the formulation and implementation of the policy, which benefited certain liquor manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, for monetary considerations.

Singh had earlier told the high court that his arrest was illegal, malicious and a “classic case of perversion of power”, and he should therefore be released.

Raju Thursday vehemently objected to Singh’s contention that his arrest was malafide, saying it was a “bogey” and “when offence (of money laundering) is made out, malafide is irrelevant”.

“He (Singh) said because I sent (legal) notice to two officers, therefore I have been falsely involved…a clear cut case is made out that he is guilty (under PMLA). Grounds of arrest make out a case of money laundering and reason to arrest,” the senior law officer said. He said the arrest was not made to teach him “a lesson” and was based on material in possession of the ED, including the statement of approver Dinesh Arora.

“Essentially, he is moving a bail application in the guise of petition under article 226 (of the Constitution). No constitutional right, fundamental right is violated. Petition is not maintainable. Trying to convert petition into bail cannot be permitted,” Raju contended.

The ED said Singh was an influential person who was capable of tampering with evidence. It claimed it has recovered the photograph of a document, which was in ED’s possession, from Singh.

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Raju also said the remand order was passed by the trial court after “total application of mind” and considering case papers, and it cannot be interfered with unless there is an error apparent on the face of record.

The senior counsel also said that being an accused in the predicate offence being probed by the CBI was not necessary as money laundering was an independent offence.

After his arrest, the trial court had remanded Singh in the custody of the agency. On October 13, he was sent to judicial custody till October 27.

Earlier, Singh’s counsel had argued the arrest of the “reputed leader” was a “knee-jerk reaction” as it was done without complying with due process of law and it deserved court’s “condemnation” in order to not only protect his liberty but also set the right precedent.

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