The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has summoned Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia for questioning on Monday in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy case.
He also said that he was asked to leave the AAP, failing which more such cases will be registered against him, to which he replied he would not leave the Arvind Kejriwal led party for the BJP.
“I was asked inside the CBI office to leave (AAP), or else such cases will keep getting registered against me. I was told ‘Satyendar Jain ke upar konse sachhe cases hain?’…I said I won’t leave AAP for BJP. They said they’ll make me CM,” he alleged.
News agency ANI quoted a CBI officer as saying that the probe team will now evaluate the answers given by the Delhi deputy CM and if needed, he will be summoned again later. “No summons to Sisodia for tomorrow,” an agency officer said.
After exiting the central agency’s office, Sisodia told reporters that there is no case in excise policy and the entire interrogation is to make “Operation Lotus” (a term used by Opposition camps to refer to BJP’s alleged attempts at toppling governments across the country) successful in Delhi.
The CBI has alleged that irregularities were committed while modifying the Excise Policy; undue favours were extended to licence holders; licence fee was waived or reduced; and L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority’s approval. The beneficiaries diverted the “illegal” gains to the accused public servants and made false entries in their books of accounts to conceal the money trail.
The chain of events leading to the CBI case against Sisodia began in July, when the chief secretary of the Delhi government submitted a report alleging “ulterior motive of monetary gains” through Delhi’s Excise Policy 2021-22. The exposition had prompted the Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena to recommend a probe into the now withdrawn policy.
On the basis of the CBI case, the ED is also conducting a money laundering probe and has searched about 130 locations in different States so far. It has arrested liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru, the managing director of Indospirit Group, who is one of the accused in the FIR and recorded statements of several witnesses.
The excise department had give a waiver of Rs 144.36 crore to the licensees on the tendered license fee on the excuse of COVID-19, the sources claimed, adding that it also refunded the earnest money of Rs 30 crore to the lowest bidder for the licence of the airport zone when it failed to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from airport authorities.
Several of its provisions such as slashing the number of dry days to three from 21 per year, the government’s exit from retail liquor sale, allowing bars in hotels, restaurants to stay open till 3 am (awaiting police permission) and the retail licensees to offer rebates and schemes on alcohol were implemented by the excise department.
Sisoda had accused former LG Anil Baijal of changing his stance on the excise policy and blocking liquor vends in non-conforming areas of Delhi two days before the implementation of the policy, by putting a condition for the vends to get permission from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi for opening such vends.