Delhi excise policy case: CBI confronts Manish Sisodia with former secretary, ex-excise commissioner; agency looking for crucial missing file : The Tribune India

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Delhi excise policy case: CBI confronts Manish Sisodia with former secretary, ex-excise commissioner; agency looking for crucial missing file

Ex-deputy CM to be confronted with two more critical witnesses whose identity has not been disclosed by the agency

Delhi excise policy case: CBI confronts Manish Sisodia with former secretary, ex-excise commissioner; agency looking for crucial missing file

AAP leader Manish Sisodia after being produced in the Rouse Avenue Court in connection with the Delhi liquor scam, in New Delhi, on Saturday, March 4, 2023. PTI



PTI

New Delhi, March 4

The CBI has confronted ex-deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia with his former secretary C Arvind and then Excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna in connection with alleged manipulation of the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy, officials said Saturday.

Sisodia, who is facing intense questioning by the officials of the Anti-Corruption Branch of the CBI, is yet to be confronted with two more critical witnesses whose identity has not been disclosed by the agency, they said.

The CBI brought Sisodia face to face with Arvind and Krishna. Sisodia’s “attitude and behaviour” during these confrontations were uncooperative and evasive, officials said.

The federal probe agency arrested Sisodia on February 26 for allegedly not cooperating in the investigation and being evasive on questions from investigators. A special CBI court on Saturday extended the custody of Sisodia till March 6.

The agency wants to utilise Sisodia’s custody to locate the crucial missing file containing legal opinions on the expert committee recommendations on the Excise policy, which remains untraceable even now, officials said.

“The investigation conducted in this case so far is alleged to have revealed that Manish Sisodia played an active role in the commission of the alleged offences as he being a member of the Group of Ministers as well as the Excise Minister manipulated certain changes in the cabinet note, which was prepared on the draft policy and was put up along with the expert committee report and the comments taken as opinions received from the general public and stakeholders, with some ulterior motives and designs and to help some stakeholders of the excise policy in achieving the illegal objective of cartelization and monopoly in the sale of liquor in Delhi,” Special Judge MK Nagpal noted in his February 27 order.

Sisodia, who was in charge of the excise department, was not mentioned as accused in the charge sheet filed in the case on November 25 last year.

According to officials, the CBI had not named Sisodia in the charge sheet as the central probe agency kept the probe open against him and other suspects and accused.

In the FIR, the CBI booked him under IPC sections 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) and 477A (falsification of accounts) and provisions of the Prevention Of Corruption Act including Section 7 (taking undue advantage to influence a public servant by corrupt or illegal means or by the exercise of personal influence).

Along with Sisodia, the CBI had also named Arva Gopi Krishna, then commissioner (excise); Anand Tiwari, then deputy commissioner (excise); Pankaj Bhatnagar, assistant commissioner (excise); Vijay Nair, former CEO, Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company; Manoj Rai, ex-employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, director, Brindco Sales Pvt. Ltd; Sameer Mahendru, managing director, Indospirit Group, as accused in the FIR.

It is alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP. The policy was later scrapped.

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

“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,” a CBI spokesperson had said after the FIR was filed on August 17 last year.


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