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In a significant development, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has summoned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for questioning in the ongoing investigation of a case related to alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy of GNCTD. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor’s summon comes as former Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia continues to languish in judicial custody in the same case.
Manish Sisodia was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI on February 26, 2023, in the liquor policy case. The ED arrested him again on March 9 after hours of questioning at Tihar Jail. The agencies have alleged that irregularities were committed while modifying the Excise Policy, undue favors were extended to license holders, the license fee was waived or reduced, and the L-1 license was extended without the competent authority’s approval. The beneficiaries diverted “illegal” gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection.
Allegations Against the Excise Department
According to the allegations, the Excise Department had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about Rs 30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules. Even though there was no enabling provision, a waiver on tendered license fees was allowed from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022, due to COVID-19. This allegedly caused a loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer, which has been instituted on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena.
In October, the ED had raided nearly three dozen locations in Delhi and Punjab following the arrest of Sameer Mahendru, Managing Director of Delhi’s Jor Bagh-based liquor distributor Indospirit Group, in the case, and arrested him later. The CBI too filed its first charge sheet in the case early this week.
The summoning of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by the CBI has sent shockwaves across the political spectrum. As the investigation proceeds, it remains to be seen what further revelations will come to light.