Manish Sisodia, former deputy chief minister of Delhi, will be produced in court on Monday, days after his arrest in the Delhi excise policy case. Sisodia was arrested on February 26 after eight hours of questioning by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Sisodia was arrested in a case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD).
What is the alleged Delhi liquor scam?
In 2021, the Delhi government introduced a new excise policy for liquor. Under the policy, the state government allowed private vendors and shops to sell liquor. The main aim was to improve customer experience and stop black marketing.
Home delivery of liquor was also allowed under this policy. The shops were also allowed to stay open till 3 AM. The vendors were free to offer discounts. As a result of the policy, the Delhi government reported a 27 per cent jump in revenue income to Rs 8,900 crore.
However, before the policy could be fully implemented, it had to be examined by chief secretary Naresh Kumar. In July 2022, Kumar submitted the report to Lt Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, accusing Sisodia of providing undue benefits to liquor licensees as kickbacks and commissions. The report further alleged that the funds were used by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Punjab Assembly elections in February last year.
It said that undue benefits were given to certain vendors while granting licenses. The vendors allegedly paid bribes for it.
The report also alleged that Sisodia gave undue benefits to liquor licensees by revising the rates of foreign liquor and removing the levy of an import pass fee of Rs 50 per case of beer.
Saxena asked the CBI for a probe into the issue. Soon, Sisodia announced that the policy would be cancelled because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was using investigating agencies it controls to intimidate vendors.
The Delhi Police Economic Offences Wing (EOW) also conducted an investigation. It asked for documents and details about the distribution of liquor licences to vendors from the excise department.
Separately, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) launched a probe into the Delhi liquor scam, stating that a certain “South group” paid Rs 100 crore kickbacks to AAP for its Goa election campaign.
The CBI named 15 individuals in its FIR in connection with the case. Sisodia is at the top of the list. It said, “Some of the L-1 licence holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors with an ab initio intention to divert the funds as an undue pecuniary advantage to public servants…showing false entries in their books of accounts to keep their record straight”.
The FIR had also named Manoj Rai, a former employee of wine and spirits giant Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, the owner of Brindco Spirits; and Sameer Mahendru, the owner of Indospirit in the FIR. In 2022, following the claims, the CBI raided 31 locations across India in search of those named.
However, Sisodia’s name was not included in the chargesheet until his arrest on Sunday, February 26.
What happened after Sisodia’s arrest?
On February 28, two days after his arrest, Sisodia resigned as the Delhi deputy chief minister.
On March 4, the Rouse Avenue Court extended Sisodia’s custody by two days. It also listed Sisodia’s bail plea for March 10.
The court also issued notice to CBI on bail moved by 51-year-old Sisodia and listed the matter for March 10.
CBI counsel stated, “He’s still non-cooperative and we need his further custody to confront him with two persons.”
“A lot of time went in his medicals. One whole day went into the petition he filed in the Supreme Court which was dismissed,” CBI told the Court.
During the hearing, Sisodia submitted in the court that CBI officials were taking care of him, treating him “respectfully”, giving him all the things and not using any third degree.
“But they are making me sit so long 9-10 hours daily, and asking the same questions again and again…it is nothing less than mental harassment,” he said.
On that, the Court directed CBI not to ask repetitive questions.
Sisodia also stated that he had joined the investigation as and when called for by the CBI.
The court observed that the accused had joined the investigation of this case on two earlier occasions, but it has also been observed that he has failed to provide satisfactory answers to most of the questions put to him during his examination and interrogation conducted. So, he has failed to legitimately explain the incriminating evidence that has allegedly surfaced against him in the recent investigation.
(With agency inputs)
The post is published through a syndicated feed and attributed to Business Standard