Excise policy case: Now even court says there’s no evidence, says CM
New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday said the court order granting bail to two key accused in a money laundering case related to the now-scrapped excise policy showed the entire case is “bogus”, and asked the BJP to tender an apology for levelling false allegations.
On May 6, a Delhi court granted bail to accused Rajesh Joshi and Gautam Malhotra in the money laundering case related to the alleged excise scam, saying the evidence was not sufficient for the case against them to be considered prima facie “genuine”.
“However, it is made clear that the observations made in this order are only for the purpose of deciding the bail applications of the applicants and nothing contained in this order shall tantamount to the expression of any opinion on merits of the case,” the judge said.
Addressing a press conference here Sunday, senior AAP leader and Delhi Cabinet Minister Atishi stated that the court granted bail to the two key accused in the Delhi excise case and reprimanded the ED for making allegations without any corroborative evidence.
She said both Rajesh Joshi and Gautam Malhotra were central figures in the ED’s and the CBI’s allegations of kickbacks worth Rs 100 crore being spent by AAP in the Goa elections, but they were granted bail on account of no evidence. Atishi called upon the BJP to come forward and apologise for defaming the Arvind Kejriwal-led party and misleading the nation.
In a tweet, AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal said, “Now even the Court has said that there is no material evidence of any kickback or money laundering. We have been saying right from the beginning that the entire liquor scam is bogus and meant only to malign AAP.”
Over the last year, Atishi said, senior BJP leaders and spokespersons conducted multiple press conferences to claim that an alleged excise policy scam had taken place in Delhi. The allegations levelled by the BJP on news channels for several months later found their way into the chargesheets filed by the CBI and the ED, she claimed.
Atishi said the ED has levelled two allegations that Rs 100 crore kickbacks were received from liquor businesses and the money was used in the Goa elections.
“The court order said no evidence had been kept forth by the ED showing any cash payment for bribe or kickbacks. The order said the ED attached some vague statements by witnesses,” she added.
Providing further details, the Delhi minister said that the chargesheets filed by the agencies claimed Gautam Malhotra was one of the liquor traders who allegedly paid kickbacks worth Rs 100 crore to AAP.
Reading out an excerpt from the court order, she said, “There is no specific evidence showing any such cash payment towards the payment of bribe or repayment of kickbacks.”
Atishi added that the ED chargesheet filed in the court has claimed kickbacks worth Rs 30 crore only. “So from claiming a scam worth Rs 100 crore first, the ED on its own later changed the figure to Rs 30 crore. The ED has claimed that it was through Rajesh Joshi that this Rs 30 crore worth of kickbacks first came to Delhi, and then through him, this money travelled from Delhi to Goa,” she added. Reading out another excerpt from the court order, the Delhi minister said, “There is no independent evidence collected by the investigating agency to substantiate or corroborate this fact.”
Atishi stressed that the allegation made by the ED against Rajesh Joshi was that the hawala of Rs 30 crore that was shifted from Delhi to Goa was done through the medium of paper slips. “However, even these paper slips have not been recovered,” she said, citing the order.
The court’s decision has a significant impact on the Delhi excise policy case as it casts doubt on the statements given by the ED’s star witness and approver Dinesh Arora, she noted.
“After a six-month-long investigation in which so many people were harassed and a scam of Rs 100 crore was alleged, the ED in the court has said that AAP had used only Rs 19 lakh in cash for the Goa assembly elections. So, the ED has after conducting this long investigation said... that the Aam Aadmi Party is the most honest political party of the country,” Atishi added.
She claimed it has been made very clear in front of the nation today that whatever was being claimed under the pretext of an “excise policy scam” was nothing but lies and fabrications. “The BJP should come out and apologise to the nation and say it clearly that they had been stating lies all along to defame the Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia,” she said.