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Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Babu, today submitted that he had no role to play in the policy making process.
The Supreme Court has today granted bail to Hyderabad-based businessman Benoy Babu, accused in a case registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy case.
A division bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti considered the fact that Babu had been in custody for the past 13 months and the trial in the case had not even commenced.
Court further observed that there may be contradictions between the allegations of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED against Babu.
The Delhi High Court in July had 'dismissed' the bail plea of Babu, wherein the bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma had said, "The accused person in the present case, acting in furtherance of a conspiracy, circumvented the policy and got framed the policy in such a way that to continuously generate and channel illegal fund. Allegations are that deliberate loopholes were left to facilitate illegal and criminal activity."
Notably, on May 11, the single-judge bench had 'reserved order' in Babu's bail plea.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Babu had contended, "I (Benoy Babu) am as good or better than those who are acquitted or discharged of the scheduled offence. No money has come to me. I (Benoy Babu) have not laundered any money, taken or given any money. The CBI chargesheet clearly states that it's not that I (Benoy Babu) influenced; in fact I am being influenced, he added.
"I may use this phrase, 'Clutching at straws'(meaning - make a desperate attempt at saving oneself). Grant of a corporate guarantee or assistance of a corporate guarantee is not a crime", he had argued.
The senior counsel had submitted, "Pernord Richard India (PRI) gave its comments on the policy...the proposal was to make all three (manufacturers, wholesaler, retailer) private. Mr. Babu disagreed with it. He asked not to make all three private, to keep the government (wholesaler) in the middle".
"However, our recommendation was turned down and all three were made private. I (Benoy Babu) am a witness in the CBI case. For ED's case to work, I have to be an accused there", he had argued.
Opposing the bail plea, Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Zoheb Hossain, on behalf of ED had contended, “He (Benoy Babu) is neck deep in the conspiracy. He has the requisite mens rea”. He had contended, “Benoy Babu in Criminal Conspiracy was making IndoSpirits part of Pernod Richard India (PRI) for the wholesale business of liquors.”
“For proceeds of crime to be there, the property is to be derived directly or indirectly by any person as a result of criminal activity. Today the proceeds of crime are there. He was instrumental in appointing IndoSpirits as L1”, he had added.
Hossain had stated that Benoy Babu was not a mere bystander. “The main allegation is that he was playing a key role in giving L1 license to IndoSpirits through PRI on directions of Vijay Nair, who was the communication in-charge of the Aam Aadmi Party. There is no ground that he is not guilty", he had added.
Hossain had further contended that “he (Benoy Babu) played a singular key role in making sure that the wholesale of Pernod Richard goes to Indo Spirit to ensure advance kickbacks are assured. His role is so critical.”
He had also contended, “He (Benoy Babu) is responsible for sending thousands of emails. I'll show that in due course. He was the only one directly in touch with Vijay Nair and go between persons with the South Group”.
Babu moved the High Court on February 21, challenging the trial court’s order denying him bail. Binoy worked as a Regional Manager with a liquor company M/S Pernod Ricard and was arrested in November 2022 in connection with the case being investigated by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED).
It is also to be noted that on February 16, the Special Judge MK Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Court, Delhi denied bail to Babu, Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinpally, Sameer Mahendru, and Sarath P Reddy. All of them were arrested by ED in the money laundering case related to the Delhi Liquor scam.
Case Title: Binoy Babu v. ED
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