New Delhi, Dec 8, 2023
The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to excise policy case accused Benoy Babu saying that 13 months of pre-trial incarceration is “long-enough”.
In November of the previous year, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had arrested the Pernod Ricard India official in a money laundering case connected to the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.
“This is not proper. You cannot keep people in detention before trial for so long …. There seems to be contradictions between what CBI and ED are alleging,” a bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna told Additional Solicitor S.V. Raju, a senior law officer of the Centre.
The bench, also comprising S.V.N. Bhatti, noted that Babu has suffered incarceration for about 13 months and the trial has not commenced in the sense that charges have not yet been framed.
“We allow the present appeal and direct that appellant Benoy Babu be released on bail,” it ordered, observing that the liquor company’s General Manager is not an accused in the charge sheet filed by the CBI in the excise policy case.
In July this year, a bench of Justice Dinesh Kumar Sharma of the Delhi High Court denied bail to former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and co-accused – Hyderabad businessman Abhishek Boinpally,
AAP’s communications in charge Vijay Nair and French spirits company’s India General Manager Benoy Babu saying that they failed to meet the twin conditions for grant of bail under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and the triple test for grant of bail.
The trial court had previously stated that the available evidence suggested that Babu played a pivotal role in Pernod Ricard’s decision to furnish corporate guarantees worth Rs 200 crore for loans obtained by other members of the cartel from HSBC Bank.
The ED’s money laundering case originates from an FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which was initiated after Delhi Lt. Governor V.K. Saxena recommended a CBI probe.(Agency)