CBI summons Manish Sisodia in the Delhi Liquor Scam

Delhi Deputy CM and AAP leader Manish Sisodia tweeted on Saturday that he has been summoned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to their headquarters on Sunday in connection with the Delhi liquor scam. According to sources in the CBI, Manish Sisodia has been called tomorrow for questioning based on the fresh available evidence against him.

The summon is in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the excise policy for the national capital.

“CBI has called me again tomorrow. They have used the full power of ED and CBI against me. The officials had raided my house and searched my bank locker but nothing was found against me. I have made arrangements for good education for the children of Delhi. They want to stop me. I have always cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so,” Sisodia said in a tweet.

The CBI had registered an FIR in a special court in August last year against Sisodia and 14 others under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 477A (falsification of records), and section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which deals with taking undue advantage to influence a public servant by corrupt or illegal means or by the exercise of personal influence.

The federal agency has alleged that the Delhi government’s policy to grant licenses to liquor traders favored certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.

“It was further alleged that irregularities were committed including in modifications in Excise Policy, extending undue favours to the licensees, waiver/reduction in licence fee, extension of L-1 license without approval etc,” a CBI spokesperson was quoted by PTI as saying.

Lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of the Delhi Excise Policy, which was brought out in November last year. After a probe was recommended, the Delhi government was forced to withdraw its liquor policy and brought back private players into the market.

The CBI’s FIR against Manish Sisodia in the case states that he and other public servants accused in the case took decisions pertaining to the excise policy 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority with “an intention to extend undue favors to the licensees post tender”.

According to the FIR, at least two payments in crores were allegedly made to “close associates” of Sisodia by Sameer Mahendru, the owner of Indospirit, one of the liquor traders involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy.

The Enforcement Directorate, which is running a parallel investigation into the financial irregularities in the case, in its chargesheet alleged a part of the alleged Rs 100 crore “kickbacks” generated in the scrapped Delhi excise policy was used in the AAP campaign in the 2022 Goa assembly election. The ED made the claims in the second chargesheet in the case in which Manish Sisodia is an accused.

The FIRs filed by the probe agencies have named Sisodia and other excise department officials as accused in the Delhi liquor scam. The ED in its supplementary chargesheet stated that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) investigation done so far has revealed that the Delhi Excise Policy, 2021-22 was created by the top leaders of the AAP to continuously generate and channel illegal funds to themselves.

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