CBI court remands Manish Sisodia for two more days; he may still celebrate Holi at home

During the hearing on Saturday, Sisodia alleged mental harassment by the CBI, accusing it of asking him the same questions throughout the day.

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FORMER Deputy Chief Minister of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD), Manish Sisodia was remanded for two additional days, at the end of which he would have been in custody for a week. Yet, he may still be able to celebrate Holi on March 8 outside prison, if the Delhi High Court grants him relief in the alleged Delhi excise policy case.

The CBI had asked the court for three additional days to interrogate Sisodia, alleging that he had not been cooperative, but was granted only two days by Special CBI Judge M.K. Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Court, Delhi.

Separately, a bail plea filed before the same court will be heard on March 10. But even before that, Sisodia may approach the Delhi High Court requesting the quashing of a first information report in which he is named. High courts possess this power under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The Supreme Court on Tuesday had refused to grant Sisodia the relief of quashing the proceedings against him or ordering his release, taking exception to the fact that he had approached the Supreme Court directly under Article 32 of the Constitution, without first exhausting the alternative remedies available to him. Shortly after the hearing concluded, Sisodia resigned from the GNCTD cabinet.

At the outset of the hearing on Saturday, judge Nagpal asked the Special Public Prosecutor Pankaj Gupta why he was pressing for further custody of Sisodia, “You had asked for five days; we gave you”. To this, Gupta replied that Sisodia was still acting in an uncooperative manner, echoing what the CBI had argued while arresting Sisodia on February 26 after around eight hours of interrogation.

Appearing for Sisodia, advocate Dayan Krishnan responded that “non-cooperation cannot be a ground for remand … the ground can’t be (that) we’ll wait till he confesses”, arguing that it is for the CBI to conduct the necessary interrogation within the time-frame of the remand period. Advocate Mohit Mathur, who appeared alongside Krishnan for Sisodia, raised the question, “What prevents them from saying the same thing again? What is the assurance that they will get what they want in 72 hours?”, referring to CBI’s demand for three days of custody.

However, judge Nagpal stated that some “missing documents” are yet to be traced and Sisodia is yet to be confronted with two persons, the names of which the CBI has submitted.

During the hearing on Saturday, Sisodia was seen briefly addressing the court himself to air his grievance that the CBI “keeps asking the same questions from morning till evening…It is mental harassment”. In response, the court granted Sisodia minor relief by asking the CBI to refrain from doing so, and to conduct his medical examination at regular intervals.

At the previous hearing at which Sisodia was remanded for a period of five days, the court had observed that it is not expected of Sisodia, and neither can he be asked, to make any self-incriminatory statements.

Saturday’s proceedings saw clamorous protests outside the Rouse Avenue court complex by supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party, and a heavy deployment of the Delhi Police and the Rapid Action Force.

The Leaflet