Delhi Deputy CM's residence raided in connection with liquor policy; Read entire sequence of events here
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday morning conducted searches at the residence of the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia in connection with an alleged scam in the recently withdrawn excise policy of the Aam Aadmi Party government.
Raids were conducted at 21 places in Delhi-NCR including the residence of Manish Sisodia and the premises of four public servants, according to a CBI official. The official said that raids were conducted in locations across 7 states.
"CBI has arrived," Sisodia confirmed through a tweet, adding "We are honest, building a future for lakhs of children. Unfortunate that in this country, whoever does good work is hassled just like this, that is why our country is still not number-1."
What exactly is the controversy around the Delhi's Excise policy?
A report on July 8 by Delhi's Chief Secretary established prima facie violations of GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR) 1993, Delhi Excise Act 2009 and Delhi Excise Rules 2010.
The Chief Secretary's report indicated substantively of financial quid pro quo at the top political level and that the Delhi Excise Policy was implemented with the sole aim of benefitting private liquor barons for financial benefits to individuals at the highest rungs of the government leading up to Manish Sisodia.
Sisodia, who is in charge of the excise department, is under the scanner for alleged deliberate and gross procedural lapses which provided undue benefits to the tender process for liquor licensees for the year 2021-22.
Sisodia is believed to have executed decisions in violation of the statutory provisions of the Excise Policy, which could have huge financial implications. Such "undue financial favours" to the liquor licensees after the deadline for awarding tenders caused huge losses to the exchequer, sources earlier claimed.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor recommends CBI probe:
Taking into account the Chief Secretary's report, Delhi's Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena had recommended a CBI investigation into the matter.
The LG office said that Sisodia also extended financial favours to the liquor licensees much after the tenders had been awarded and thus caused huge losses to the exchequer.
The excise policy was passed in chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Cabinet in the middle of the deadly Delta Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.
However, the Delhi government's version is that the policy was formulated to ensure the generation of optimum revenue, and eradicate the sale of spurious liquor or non-duty paid liquor in Delhi, besides improving user experience.
Following LG's recommendation, the office of the Assistant Commissioner of Delhi Police's Economic Offence Wing (EOW)issued a notice to Delhi's Excise Commissioner asking him to provide all documents relating to the award of liquor licenses under the new excise policy.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, EOW had sought the date of floating of tenders for grant of liquor license under the new policy, date of grant of a license, and application forms of all successful applicants.
The procedures that were followed to check monopolies and cartels of successful applicants granted liquor license was also sought.
"Whether any SOP was prepared to check monopolies and cartels of successful applicants granted liquor license under New Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. If yes, please provide the relevant SOP," it had asked.
Further, it sought whether the Delhi Excise Department has issued any show cause notice for cancellation of the license granted to any applicant or cancelled license under the new excise policy.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's reaction after today's raids:
"CBI is welcome. We will give full cooperation. Searches/raids took place earlier too, but nothing was found. Nothing will be found now too," Kejriwal tweeted mentioning that the CBI has raided his deputy's residence on the day when the picture of the 'Delhi Model' appeared on the front page of America's biggest newspaper- the New York Times.
Earlier too, Kejriwal rubbished the allegations made against his deputy and termed the matter to be a false case and alleged that the central government could not bear to see the expansion of the Aam-Aadmi Party (AAP).
"Whole case is false. I know Sisodia for the past 22 years. He is honest. When he became minister, Delhi government schools were in poor condition. He worked day and night to bring them up to a level where a judge's child and a rickshaw driver's child sit together to study," Kejriwal had said.
The central government, Kejriwal said, has levelled several allegations against our people as the Aam Aadmi Party has been growing since its win in Punjab.
"They cannot bear to see us rise to a national level and thus are resorting to such measures. But nothing will stop us," he said adding that he is neither "scared of jails, nor scared of the noose."