The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday, 19 August, listed 16 accused, including Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, in its FIR on the alleged excise scam, following its 12-hour-long raids at the Aam Admi Party (AAP) leader's residence.
Excise officials, liquor company executives, and dealers, along with unknown public servants and private persons, have also been booked in the case, news agency ANI reported.
The CBI also raided around 20 other locations in Delhi-NCR, including premises of former Delhi Excise Commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna, a 2012-batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre, say officials.
In a series of tweets, the deputy CM wrote, "CBI has come. They are welcome. We are extremely honest...it is very unfortunate that those who do good work in our country are harassed like this."
He added, "We welcome CBI. Will give full cooperation in the investigation so that the truth can come out soon," saying that "Till now, many cases have been filed against me but nothing has come from them. Nothing will come out of this one either. My work cannot be stopped for good education in the country."
AAP Supporters Detained for Protesting CBI Raid
Several AAP supporters were detained for protesting against the CBI raid at Sisodia's residence in connection with the excise policy case, police said.
A senior police officer said the party supporters came to Mathura Road near Sisodia's residence and started protesting.
He said, “The protesters were removed from the spot and taken to Vasant Kunj police station in buses."
CBI Conducts Searches in Delhi Excise Policy Case
During the search, the CBI teams reached 21 locations including the premises of four public servants.
The agency had registered an FIR in connected to alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of Delhi’s Excise Police brought in November 2021, officials said.
Moreover, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena had recommended a CBI probe into the AAP government’s 2021-22 Excise Policy over alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses.
The CBI inquiry was recommended in a report filed by the Delhi Chief Secretary in July.
The report allegedly showed prima facie violations of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 1992, the Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR), 1993, Delhi Excise Act, 2009 and Delhi Excise Rules, 2010.
Officials added that there were also "deliberate and gross procedural lapses" to provide undue post-tender "benefits to liquor licensees."
'Same Day When Sisodia On New York Times Front Page': Kejriwal
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also took to Twitter and said, "The day on which the Delhi education model was praised and Manish Sisodia's picture was printed on the front page of America's largest newspaper, The New York Times, the Centre sent the CBI to Manish's house."
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party hit out at the AAP government. Amit Malviya, National Convenor of the BJP's IT cell said, "Delhi Govt’s new excise policy was arbitrary, caused huge loss to the exchequer. If the policy was fine, why was it reversed immediately after inquiry was ordered?"
Malviya added, "Arvind Kejriwal had given honesty certificate to Satyendra Jain also. He still remains in jail. Sisodia, too, will go."
Previously the Delhi CM has tweeted an image of front page of The New York Times and said, "Delhi has made India proud. Delhi model is on the front page of the biggest newspaper of US. Manish Sisodia is the best education minister of independent India."
Manish Sisodia, referring to ED's arrest of Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, also said, "These people are troubled by the excellent work of Delhi's education and health."
"There are false allegations against both of us. The truth will come out in court," he added.
What Was the Excise Policy, 2021–22?
The Excise Policy, 2021-22, formulated on the basis of an expert committee report was implemented from 17 November 2021 and retail licences were issued under it to private bidders for 849 vends across the city, divided into 32 zones.
Several of its provisions such as slashing the number of dry days to three from 21 per year, the government's exit from retail liquor sale, allowing bars in hotels, restaurants to stay open till 3 am (awaiting police permission) and the retail licensees to offer rebates and schemes on alcohol were implemented by the excise department.
However, under the policy, many liquor stores failed to open for being located in non-conforming areas of the city. Several such vends were sealed by the municipal corporations for violations of the Master Plan.
On 30 July 2022, the Delhi government announced its decision to revert to its old liquor sale policy, allowing retail sales of liquor for six more months.
The decision was announced a day before the expiry of the government's Excise Policy 2021-22 on 31 July.
(With inputs from PTI.)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)