Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on Friday, raided Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s residence in connection with the national capital’s excise policy case. The investigating agency’s searches were conducted across 20 locations in the National Capital Region (NCR) and seven states.
The CBI has also registered an FIR in connection with the alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of the national capital’s Excise Policy, which was brought in November 2021. Moreover, the Aam Aadmi Party has called these raids a political vendetta.
The CBI probe on Delhi Deputy CM Sisodia can be divided into seven categories:
The excise policy was brought in on April 15, 2021, and nearly a month later a cabinet decision was taken to benefit liquor barons in the national capital. In addition to this, the governor's office had also alleged that this would have happened only if illegal gratification was given to Manish Sisodia, who was in charge of excise and finance.
How Was This Done
A waiver of Rs 144.36 crore was given to the liquor cartel, citing the Covid pandemic as the reason, on license fee tender. Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (LG) claimed that this would have resulted in commissions and kickbacks. It has also been alleged that the cabinet wasn’t kept in the loop when this one-time waiver was given.
Sisodia then allegedly asked the cabinet to take a decision authorising him to tweak the policy so that waiver of license fee tender could be implemented, which was already flagged by the LG. The cabinet then allowed to withdraw its earlier decision and authorised Sisodia to implement the one-time waiver.
It has been alleged that an attempt was made to legalise an illegal decision post-facto.
The Cabinet note for a cabinet meeting at 2 pm on July 14, 2022, reached the chief secretary at 9:30 am. No cabinet note was circulated and, ideally, this should have been sent to the LG 48 hours in advance. This reached the LG office at 5 pm to "help Sisodia”.
The above facts suggest that the Excise Department took these decisions only at the level of the minister, without the approval of the competent authority, which is the Cabinet, and subsequently, the LG in such matters.
As per the sources, the excise department, on the directions of Sisodia, refunded Rs 30 crore to bidders at airports because they didn’t get the ‘No Objection Certificate' from the airport authorities. Ideally, this money should have been forfeited.
On imported beer, Rs 50 per case was withdrawn without getting the approval of the competent authority, resulting in a loss of revenue to the state exchequer. No approval was taken from LG for L7Z licensees and L1 licensees were increased from April 1 to May 31, 2022, and then from June 1 to July 31, 2022.
The Delhi government, in 2021, changed its excise police and exited the liquor business.
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