NEW DELHI: Observing that the arrest of the former deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia was “justified” and that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has “powers” to seek custody for “examination and interrogation”, a Delhi court on Friday granted ED his custody for seven days in the alleged scam in Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.The court of special judge MK Nagpal observed in an order that he was “not only the deputy CM of Govt. of NCT of Delhi at the relevant time but also the excise minister, and hence, directly responsible for framing as well as implementation of the above excise policy”. It also pointed out that he was one of the ministers included in the Group of Ministers (GOM) entrusted with the task of formulation of the excise policy as well as implementing it.Rejecting the submissions of the counsels for Sisodia who opposed ED’s plea for his custody, the court said: “The power to seek remand is essentially a part of the power of arrest and to conduct investigation in respect to commission of the alleged offence of money laundering…”Senior advocates Dayan Krishnan, Mohit Mathur and Siddharth Agarwal appeared for Sisodia. They called the process adopted by ED “illegal” and questioned the timing of his arrest in the money laundering case a day before his bail application was to come up for hearing in the CBI case. The timing was “malafide” and the purpose was to keep him in “continued detention”, they arguedKrishnan argued that policy making being an executive function is entirely a subject matter of legislative competence and cannot be questioned or brought under scrutiny in courts. He added that the allegation that Sisodia got incorporated some favourable clauses in the excise policy for the benefit of the alleged south lobby was beyond judicial scrutiny and cannot be questioned in this court.Referring to the remand application, the court said the allegation was that Sisodia was “instrumental” at every stage of formulation as well as implementation of the excise policy and he appears to be connected not only with generation of the proceeds of crime but also its repayment or recoupment. “Specific evidence has come on record…that the accused had got incorporated certain material clauses in the excise policy, which were not even discussed at the meeting of the GOM ,and these clauses were allegedly got inserted by him for the benefit of the south liquor lobby and in pursuance of the criminal conspiracy of which he was a key member.”The ED in its remand application stated that Sisodia was required to be “confronted with the oral and documentary evidence collected so far and showing his involvement in this case”. It alleged that the policy was implemented as part of a conspiracy to give wholesale business profits of 12% to certain private companies, adding that the conspiracy was coordinated by Vijay Nair and other individuals, along with the south group.”The proceeds of crime are quantified for over Rs 292 crore. Considering the magnitude of the matter, we need to identify the complete modus operandi. We need to confront other persons whom we have summoned. We have issued summons to seven persons. Therefore, we are seeking remand of 10 days,” submitted advocate Zoheb Hossain, who appeared on behalf of the ED. Krishnan dismissed the figure as “totally imaginary”. “Members of the south group further got control of nine zones, therefore making a serious cartel in the excise business in Delhi,” the ED submitted.The agency further alleged that Sisodia destroyed 14 phones out of which only two were recovered and that the AAP leader used sim cards and phones which were purchased against the names of other individuals.The court took note of the ED’s submissions that Sisodia had been “totally evasive and non-cooperative”, coming up with answers which have been found “entirely in contrast and contradiction to the oral and documentary evidence collected so far”.It observed in the order that the approver and other witnesses in the case have disclosed that a huge amount of advance kickbacks amounting to around Rs 100 crore was paid by the south lobby through hawala channels. “This amount is stated to have been paid to the co-accused, Vijay Nair, who allegedly was representing this accused and the other AAP leaders, and out of the above total amount, an amount of around Rs 20-30 crore was transferred through the approver and one other co-accused, Abhishek Boinpally….This accused has also played a vital role in creating a cartel, which was formed between the liquor manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, and he was also instrumental in grant of wholesale licence (L-1) in favour of firm Indo Spirits belonging to the co-accused, Sameer Mahendru, and there are specific statements on record made by some of the witnesses showing his role to this effect,” the court noted.The court added that there was nothing to suggest from the case file produced by the IO that Sisodia’s arrest was effected in violation of section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act or that the same was otherwise illegal.