Edited By: Pritha Mallick
Last Updated: February 26, 2023, 20:30 IST
The private defamation complaint was filed by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia against the BJP leaders for allegedly levelling corruption charges against him. (File pic: PTI)
The Liquorgate scandal in Delhi was rocked by the arrest of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia by the CBI on Sunday months after the senior leader was accused of corruption in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday, seven hours after he was questioned by the central agency in connection to the excise policy scam case.
The CBI on Sunday began its second round of questioning of Sisodia in connection with the excise policy scam case.
The senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader arrived at the heavily-barricaded CBI office earlier in the day after paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat. In an emotional speech, Sisodia maintained that the allegations against him were false and said he was prepared to go to jail over “false allegations”.
Here’s a timeline of the excise policy scam:
- The AAP-led government implemented the new liquor policy in November 2021 in Delhi. The policy was made based on a report by an expert committee under the chairmanship of the Excise Commissioner which was constituted vide an order dated September 4, 2020.
- The Delhi Excise Policy drastically altered the way liquor is sold in the city, with private players taking over the retail business instead of the government.
- The Excise Policy 2021-22 was withdrawn by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government last year after a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was recommended by Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) VK Saxena into “violation of norms and lapses.”
- Sisodia and 14 others were “accused” in an FIR by the CBI for criminal conspiracy and corruption over alleged large-scale irregularities in the framing and implementation of excise policy on August 17.
- The CBI alleged that irregularities were committed, including modifications in Excise Policy, extending undue favours to the licensees, waiver/reduction in licence fee, the extension of L-1 license without approval, among other charges.
- According to the FIR, Sisodia, then commissioner (excise) Arva Gopi Krishna, along with former deputy and assistant commissioners Anand Tiwari and Pankaj Bhatnagar, were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions regarding the excise policy for 2021-22 without approval from a competent authority to extend undue favours to the licensees “post tender”.
- The CBI filed a chargesheet against seven people, including middlemen and liquor traders, in November, alleging that the the Delhi government’s policy to grant licences to liquor traders favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it.
- The accused persons are Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) communications in-charge Vijay Nair, Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Boinpally, liquor businessman Sameer Mahendru, former Excise Department officials Kuldeep Singh and Narender Singh, and Mootha Goutam and Arun Ramchandra Pillai.
- It was also alleged that illegal gains on the count of these acts were diverted to concerned public servants by private parties by making false entries in their books of accounts.
- The CBI called Sisodia for questioning in connection with the excise policy case nearly three months after filing the chargesheet.
- The Aam Admi Party leader was earlier examined for a day on October 17 last year. The deputy chief minister, who also held the charge of the excise department, was first questioned by the federal agency on October 17 last year and his house as well as bank lockers were also searched in connection with the case.
- After the searches, Sisodia claimed nothing incriminating was found against him during the raids and he would continue to cooperate in the investigation. “The CBI has called me again tomorrow. They have used the full power of the CBI, the ED against me, raided my house, searched bank lockers, but nothing was found against me,” he said.
- A Delhi court on December 15 took cognizance of a charge sheet filed by the CBI against seven people saying “sufficient grounds have been found for proceeding further” against them.
- The CBI focused on the alleged influence of a “south lobby” of businessmen and politicians on the formulation and implementation of the liquor policy to swing it in their favour, using middlemen, liquor traders and public servants.
- On February 8, the CBI arrested Butchibabu Gorantla, a former Chartered Accountant of K Kavitha, a BRS MLC in Telangana and a daughter of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. According to officials, Babu had met several accused named in the FIR in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai and was one of the prime negotiators from the South Lobby, which wanted to swing the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22 in its favour. The CBI had found evidence that Babu acted on behalf of the South Lobby comprising the Telangana MLC, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, and Aurobindo Pharma’s P Sarat Chandra Reddy
- CBI originally summoned Sisodia on February 19 but he sought deferment of his questioning citing the ongoing Budget exercise, following which the CBI had asked him to appear on February 26.
- On Sunday, after eight hours of questioning, Sisodia was arrested by the CBI under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
(WIth inputs from agencies)
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