Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court: In a bail application under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 filed on behalf of applicant-Amandeep Singh Dhall for regular bail, a Single Judge bench of Swarana Kanta Sharma, J. considering the seriousness of the allegations and the fact that an FIR already stands registered against Amandeep Singh Dhall for paying bribe to an officer of Enforcement Directorate for getting his name removed from the present case, the Court held that it did not find any grounds for the grant of bail to Amandeep Singh Dhall.


The Central Bureau of Investigation (‘CBI’) registered this case on 17-08-2022 for offences punishable under Section 120-B read with Section 447-A of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and Section 7 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (‘PC Act’) on directions of competent authority by Director, Ministry of Home Affairs (‘MHA’) wherein inquiry was directed based on a complaint by the Lieutenant Governor, Government of NCT of Delhi (‘GNCTD’) alleging irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy of GNCTD for 2021-22.

The prosecution alleged that during the formulation of Delhi’s Excise Policy for 2021-22, the accused persons had engaged in a criminal conspiracy, and they had intentionally created or left loopholes in the policy to be exploited later. Allegedly, kickbacks totaling around Rs. 90-100 crores were paid in advance to Vijay Nair, Manish Sisodia, and other co-accused persons by individuals in the South Indian liquor business (‘South group’).

The criminal conspiracy is said to have resulted in the formation of a cartel involving three key components of the policy — liquor manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. After investigation, the CBI filed the first charge sheet against 7 accused persons for offences punishable under Sections 120-B of IPC and Sections 7, 7-A, and 8 of the PC Act for which the Trial Court took cognizance on 15-12-2022.

Thereafter, further investigation was conducted by the CBI, and Amandeep Singh Dhall was arrested on 18-04-2023. On 25-04-2023 the first supplementary charge sheet was filed before the Trial Court against four other persons including Amandeep Singh Dhall. The regular bail application of Amandeep Singh Dhall was dismissed by the Trial Court vide impugned order dated 09-06-2023.

Analysis and Findings

The Court noted that Amandeep Singh Dhall argued that there was undue delay in deciding the present bail application, and it was stated before the Supreme Court by Amandeep Singh Dhall that the application was heard on 40 occasions and adjourned to 08-07-2024.

The Court noted that in about 29 out of 37 hearings, it was Amandeep Singh Dhall himself who moved multiple applications on the ground that he was suffering from medical ailments. The Court also noted that over the past 11 months, Amandeep Singh Dhall had moved as many as 14 applications, all of which stood disposed of.

Further, the Court stated that out of the total period of custody of 15 months, Amandeep Singh Dhall was permitted to remain in judicial custody, though remaining hospitalized for more than 6 months.

The Court also stated that once it was observed that the medical requirements of Amandeep Singh Dhall were available in the Jail Hospital, he was asked to surrender on 06-05-2024. Therefore, the argument that his incarceration was being prolonged due to non-hearing by the Court was contrary to record and the delay in hearing the bail application could not be imputed to any court and be made a ground for grant of bail.

While deciding the role of Amandeep Singh Dhall in the present matter, the Court noted that Amandeep Singh Dhall was one of the 14 individuals who were named directly in the FIR and the FIR recorded that he was actively involved in committing irregularities in framing and implementation of the Excise Policy of GNCTD for 2021-22.

The Court stated that it was undisputed that Amandeep Singh Dhall was the distributor for DIAGEO in Delhi even before the implementation of the new Excise policy and that he had attended a meeting with the co-accused and other members of the South group in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy.

Further, the Court noted that a WhatsApp chat was recovered which revealed that it was Amandeep Singh Dhall who had shared the mobile number of Vijay Nair with Benoy Babu and asked him to contact him on Signal App.

The Court noted that the company of Amandeep Singh Dhall, Brindco Sales Pvt. Ltd. was awarded the wholesale L-1 license under the new Excise Policy of Delhi and that he had issued additional credit notes worth Rs. 4.97 crores through his company to various retailers, without receiving corresponding credit from the manufacturer i.e., DIAGEO.

The Court stated that at the stage of hearing of the bail application, the Court could not conduct a mini-trial and ignore the material against Amandeep Singh Dhall collected by the investigating agencies.

The Court, further, noted that during the investigation, a search was conducted, and the CBI had seized certain incriminating documents wherein the tender document that was seized was dated 07-06-2021 whereas the actual date of floating of the tender was 28-06-2021 and the contents of both documents were the same except the date of tender which reflected that Amandeep Singh Dhall was a part of the conspiracy.

The Court noted that Amandeep Singh Dhall contended that he was the one who had perpetuated the filing of the petitions against the tendering of the Retail licenses and cartelization in the liquor market, respectively, and that he was the whistleblower of the entire case.

Considering this, the Court stated that this argument did not inspire confidence since there was no evidence that indicated that Amandeep Singh Dhall had himself submitted any complaint to the Excise department or had filed any petition before the Court. Further, the Court stated that from the observations in this case, it appeared that Amandeep Singh Dhall was not the whistleblower but was instrumental in the non-pursuance and ultimate withdrawal of the petition.

The Court noted that the triple test for the grant of bail required the following factors to be taken into consideration:

  1. Whether the accused is a flight risk;

  2. Whether the accused can tamper with evidence if released on bail; and

  3. Whether the accused can influence witnesses if released on bail.

While summing up, the Court stated that as per the nature of the offence and the material on record, it is prima facie revealed that Amandeep Singh Dhall was in criminal conspiracy with the co-accused and was also involved in recoupment of kickbacks by issuing additional credit notes.

Further, the Court stated that the possession of confidential government agreements also indicated his key role in formulating and manipulating the Excise Policy to secure undue financial benefits.

The Court analyzed the role and conduct of Amandeep Singh Dhall in influencing those conducting the investigation and noted that the contents of the FIR stated that he paid a sum of Rs. 5 Crores for not being arrested and getting his name deleted from the entire case. Based on this, the Court stated that Amandeep Singh Dhall could very well influence the witness and tamper with the evidence.

The Court held that the triple test for grant of bail was not satisfied by Amandeep Singh Dhall since he was in contact with influential leaders of Aam Aadmi Party for hatching conspiracy, and the allegations against him were serious in nature.

Further, the Court stated that it did not find any ground for grant of bail to Amandeep Singh Dhall and the bail application was disposed of.

[Amandeep Singh Dhall v. CBI, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 4285, Decided on 04-06-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner — Sr. Advocate N. Hariharan, Advocate Vedant Verma, Advocate Tanveer Ahmad Mir, Advocate Shashwat Sarin, Advocate Ariana Ahluwalia, Advocate Punya Rekha Angara, Advocate Mueed Shah, Advocate Shaurea Tyagi, Advocate Anushka Khaitan

For Respondent — SPP D.P. Singh, Advocate Manu Mishra, Advocate Shreya Dutt and ASP Rajiv Kumar

Buy Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973  HERE

Code of Criminal Procedure

Buy Penal Code, 1860   HERE

penal code, 1860

Buy Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988   HERE

prevention of corruption act, 1988

Must Watch

maintenance to second wife

bail in false pretext of marriage

right to procreate of convict

Criminology, Penology and Victimology book release

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.