Delhi deputy CM remanded to 5 day CBI custody over liquor ‘scam’
By Venkatesh Raghavan
New Delhi: A nine-hour interrogation of Delhi deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on October 7, 2022, by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths over alleged corruption in the state’s excise policy to favour the liquor lobby, yesterday bludgeoned into a full-blown controversy that culminated into his arrest and subsequent custodial remand till March 4, 2023, here today.
The CBI has named Sisodia as the prime accused in the alleged excise policy scam. The crux of the allegation was Sisodia had accepted a bribe to the tune of INR 100 crores in exchange for favouring select dealers in the liquor lobby. Following several hours of questioning, the CBI sought Sisodia’s custodial remand in the court of Special judge M K Nagpal at the Rouse Avenue Court here today, citing Sisodia’s answers to their queries that related to contentious provisions in the state’s liquor policy that were not present in the earlier version of the draft.
The prosecution in the case pointed to the court that there was a steep hike in the profit margin clause in the draft that was submitted to the excise commissioner. Besides, opinions that are sought from legal experts were conspicuously absent in the submission. Sisodia’s counsel, Dayan Krishnan pointed to the court that any accused person cannot be coerced into providing evidence against his or her own self, as this is bad in law and amounts to self-incrimination.
Dwelling on policy details, the CBI counsel informed the court that some of the liquor lobbies were permitted to tamper with the content of the draft in exchange for kickbacks paid to the accused persons in the 2021 excise policy scam.
It all began with a blame game against the Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena over the state losing out on revenues to the tune of crores of rupees owing to the new liquor policy that was adopted. This led to Saxena ordering a CBI probe to be conducted in the matter. Meanwhile, the Delhi government reverted to its old policy abandoning the new draft.
Acting on the probe requisition, the CBI lodged an FIR against Manish Sisodia, naming him as the prime accused in the Excise policy scam on August 17, 2022. The charges framed against Sisodia included cheating and bribery. It was followed close on the heels by a CBI raid in Sisodia’s residential quarters and that of three of AAP’s party members. Sisodia’s recent arrest followed an eight-hour-long interrogation conducted yesterday.
On October 7, 2022, the nine-hour-long questioning by the CBI had ended with Sisodia’s statement, “I was being pressurized to quit AAP [Aam Aadmi Party] and join the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party],”
The arrests meanwhile sparked sporadic protests pan India including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Bhopal, and Srinagar from AAP supporters and party workers. People were seen taking to the streets in big numbers with banners and posters crying political vendetta by the union government. Delhi also witnessed numerous confrontations between AAP workers and the city police on the streets leading to the BJP office and AAP headquarters.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal came out in defence of Sisodia stating that the nodal agency had to comply with political pressures exerted by higher-ups though they were unwilling to arrest his deputy on the face of lack of any evidence.
Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao to condemned the arrest of Sisodia by the CBI and opined that the arrest is an attempt to divert people’s attention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and business tycoon Gautam Adani nexus.
– global bihari bureau