Sisodia has been accused of providing undue favors to liquor licensees in return for “kickbacks” and “commissions”, which were allegedly used by AAP in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly elections in February 2022.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was arrested on Sunday after nearly eight hours of questioning by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with alleged irregularities in the now-cancelled Delhi Excise Policy.
Sisodia was questioned about various aspects of the excise policy, his alleged links with Dinesh Arora and other accused named in the FIR, and details of exchange of messages from several phones.
Soon after Sisodia’s arrest, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “He is innocent… This is dirty politics”. He tweeted and said, ‘There is a lot of anger among the people due to the arrest of Manish. Everyone is watching. The public is understanding everything. People will respond to it.”
Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj said, ‘CBI is completely at the behest of the Centre. We always knew that Manish Sisodia would be arrested.
The deputy CM is also being probed by the CBI in another case related to allegedly setting up a ‘feedback unit’ to collect political intelligence against AAP’s rivals. On 22 February, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had sanctioned prosecution of him under the Prevention of Corruption Act in connection with the case.
The chain of events that culminated in Sisodia’s arrest by the CBI began in July 2022, when Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar submitted a report to Lieutenant Governor Vinay Kumar Saxena, accusing Sisodia of providing undue benefits to liquor licensees in return for “kickbacks”. was accused of doing. Commission”, which was allegedly used by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Punjab Assembly elections in February that year.
The CBI has named 15 persons in its FIR filed in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-2022, with Sisodia at the top. Citing allegations in a memorandum issued by the L-G’s office, the FIR states that Sisodia, Delhi’s then Excise Commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, and two other senior excise department officials “recommendation relating to Excise Policy for the year 2021 22 without the approval of the competent authority with the intention of giving undue advantage to the licensee post tender”.
It accused Vijay Nair, former CEO of entertainment and event management company Only Much Louder; Manoj Rai, former employee of wine and spirits giant Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, owner of Brindco Spirits; and Sameer Mahendru, owner of Indospirit, for being “actively involved in irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the excise policy”.
According to the FIR, “some of the L-1 license holders are issuing credit notes to retailers, with the object of diverting funds in the form of undue pecuniary advantage to public servants, … to keep false in their books of accounts Showing entries. His record straight”.
The revised liquor policy has proposed several changes to the existing policy, including allowing home delivery of liquor, opening of shops till 3 am and allowing unlimited discounts to licensees. These changes were proposed by a Group of Ministers (GoM) in the Delhi Cabinet on May 2, 2022.
Before the policy could be implemented, however, it was to be scrutinized by Chief Secretary Kumar, who was appointed in April this year. After going through the proposal, Kumar pointed out “procedural lapses” and irregularities in the new policy.
On July 8, 2022, Kumar sent a report to Sisodia, the head of the Excise Department, seeking answers to his questions. A copy of the report was also sent to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and LG Saxena on the same day. The Chief Secretary also informed the EO