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DN Bureau

Liquor gate: Court grants regular bail to five accused including two former Excise Department officials

Rouse Avenue Court

New Delhi: The Rouse Avenue Court on Tuesday granted regular bail to five accused including two former Excise Department officials in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case of the Delhi Government Excise policy case. The Court earlier had granted them interim bail in the case. All the five accused were not arrested by the investigating agency during the probe.

The Special Judge MK Nagpal on Tuesday granted regular bail to Sameer Mahendru, Kuldeep Singh, Narender Singh, Arun Ramchandra Pillai, and Mootha Goutam in the Delhi Liquor Excise Policy Case, being investigated by CBI.

Earlier, the Court had granted interim bail to two former Excise Department officials Kuldeep Singh and Narender Singh. The Court had also granted bail to Gautam Mootha and Arun Pillai and Businessman Sameer Mahendru.

Businessman Sameer Mahendru to remain in Judicial Custody in Excise Policy case being investigated by Enforcement Directorate. Two other accused Vijay Nair and Abhishek Boinpally were already granted bail earlier by the same court.

However, Vijay Nair and Abhishek Boinpally were remained in Judicial custody as they were also arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Excise Money Laundering case and their Bail petition is pending before the trial court.

In the same case, CBI has also arrested Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday and the court sent him on remand till March 4, 2023. CBI counsel told the court that the Delhi Deputy CM's custodial interrogation was required for an effective investigation into the case.

The CBI has recently filed chargesheet against 7 accused persons and out of these 7 only the accused Vijay Nair and Abhishek Bonipally are found to have been arrested. Bail granted to both of them is under challenge before High Court. Chargesheet qua five other accused is filed without arrest, noted the court. Recently, CBI challenged the trial court order granting bail to Vijay Nair and Abhishek Boinpally in Delhi High Court.

CBI's Petition stated that the trial court Judge has not only granted the concession of bail to the respondent accused in an extremely serious and wide-ranging economic offence but this discretion has been exercised at a very crucial stage of the investigation.

Investigation Agency submits that of the seven tests prescribed by the Supreme Court to test any discretionary order dealing with bail has not been complied with in the present case. It is also submitted that the present case is a case of a conspiracy sought to be carried out in an extremely convoluted manner with a clear purpose of making an attempt that the investigation if any, does not reach the real culprits.

According to the CBI, it commenced an investigation and unearthed the conspiracy led by the present applicant who was collecting money from private liquor wholesalers in lieu of getting favourable changes made in the Excise Policy of 2021. The Rouse Avenue Court on February 16, 2023, had rejected the bail petitions of five accused who were arrested in the money laundering probe emerging out of the Delhi government's now scrapped excise policy.

While rejecting the bail plea, the court noted that none of the accused deserves to be released on bail in this case at this stage of proceedings as the allegations made against them are quite serious.
The Special Judge MK Nagpal while rejecting the bail plea of Vijay Nair, Abhishek Bonipally, Sameer Mahendru, Sarath P Reddy and Binoy Babu observed that the accused persons do not even satisfy the triple test as laid down in the case of P Chidambaram vs Directorate of Enforcement being relied upon by Defence Counsels.

The FIR in the case was instituted on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena. (ANI)

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