Friday, April 19, 2024

After CBI, ED arrests Sisodia in Delhi excise policy case

New Delhi, March 9: Three days after he was sent to Tihar Jail, following CBI’s custody, the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday arrested former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in a money laundering case linked to the “irregularities” in the Delhi excise policy.
The fresh arrest comes a day before a court was likely to hear Sisodia’s bail plea, as it had asked the CBI to file its response to the AAP leader’s application by March 10.
Sisodia (51) was placed under arrest by invoking the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), following the second round of questioning at the Tihar Jail, where he is in judicial custody since March 6. He was first questioned on Tuesday.
ED officials claimed he was arrested as he was “not cooperating” with investigators and “evasive in his replies”. The agency will seek his custody for interrogation on Friday.
A close aide of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Sisodia, who was handling 18 of the 33 ministries before his resignation, was arrested by the CBI on February 26 in a case it registered in connection with the alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy.
He resigned as Deputy Chief Minister on February 28 after the Supreme Court refused to entertain his bail plea. He was to present the Delhi Budget this month as Finance Minister.
The ED money laundering case is based on the FIR registered by the CBI on August 17 last year. The CBI FIR had alleged that three close associates of Sisodia were involved in “managing and diverting” bribes collected “from liquor licencees to accused public servants”.
While naming Sisodia, the CBI had alleged that the formulation and execution of the Delhi Excise Policy brought in November 2021 had led to alleged loss to the state exchequer. The agency had searched Sisodia’s residence and 20 other locations in seven states and Union Territories last year.
According to the CBI FIR, Sisodia, former Excise Commissioner Aravi Gopi Krishna, former Deputy Excise Commissioner Anand Tiwari and former Assistant Excise Commissioner Anand Tiwari were “instrumental” in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for 2021-22 without approval of Lieutenant Governor “with an intention to extend undue favours to the licensees post tender”.
Under the CBI lens is the allegation that the Excise Department under Sisodia gave a waiver of Rs 144.36 crore to licensees on the tendered licence fee citing Covid-19, besides refunding the earnest money of Rs 30 crore to the lowest bidder for the licence of the airport zone when it failed to obtain a no-objection certificate from the airport authorities.
This is claimed to be in violation of Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, which mandated that the successful bidder must complete all formalities for the grant of the licence, failing which all deposits made by him shall stand forfeited to the government. (Agencies)