Every day counts in matters of liberty: SC

NEW DELHI, 17 May: Every single day counts in matters concerning the liberty of citizens, the Supreme Court said on Friday while asking the Delhi High Court to decide on the regular bail plea of a businessman in a corruption case related to the now scrapped Delhi excise policy.

The petitioner’s regular bail application has been heard by the high court on 40 occasions and now the matter has been adjourned to 8 July, a bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta was told by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for businessman Amandeep Singh Dhall.

“This cannot be that after 40 hearings, you don’t decide the regular bail,” he said.

The bench noted it has been informed that his regular bail plea was filed in July last year.

“In matters concerning the liberty of citizens, every single day counts. Keeping the matter of regular bail pending after almost 11 months deprives the petitioner of his liberty,” the bench said.

“We request the high court to decide the bail application prior to the closure for summer vacations,” it said.

Summer vacations in the high court start from 3 June. 31 May will be the last working day.

Dhall is an accused in separate cases linked to the excise policy which are being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The ED’s money laundering case stems from a CBI FIR.

A trial court had earlier dismissed his regular bail plea in a corruption case lodged by the CBI.

According to the probe agencies, Dhall allegedly conspired with other accused and was “actively” involved in the formulation of the liquor policy and facilitating kickbacks to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its recoupment by the “south group” through various means.

According to the CBI and the ED, irregularities were committed while modifying the excise policy and undue favours extended to licence holders.

The Delhi government implemented the policy on 17 November, 2021 and scrapped it at the end of September 2022 amid allegations of corruption. (PTI)