Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday, 6 August, accused former Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal of changing his stance on the opening of liquor stores in unauthorised areas, and said that he had written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), urging it to investigate the matter.
"Under the new excise policy, 849 shops were to be opened across Delhi, including in unauthorised areas. The LG did not object to the proposal and approved it," Sisodia said while addressing a press conference.
However, on 15 November 2021, two days before the policy's implementation, Baijal changed his stance and said that authorisation from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) would be required for opening liquor stores in unauthorised areas, the deputy CM alleged.
"As a result of this change of stand by the LG, the shops could not be opened in unauthorised areas, leading to a loss of revenue of thousands of crores to the government. On the other hand, the shops that opened witnessed a huge income," he added.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader also urged the CBI to probe whether Baijal's decision was taken under pressure from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Delhi government has now withdrawn the liquor policy, which was put into effect on 17 November last year. It is now preparing to run shops as per the old excise regime, beginning from 1 September.
The current LG, VK Saxena, has called for a CBI investigation into the alleged violation of rules in the implementation of the new excise policy in November last year.
Under the policy, licences were issued to private firms for retail sale of liquor across 32 zones in the city.
LG Suspends 11 Officials for 'Lapses' in Implementation of Liquor Policy
Meanwhile, Saxena suspended 11 officials, including the then Delhi excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna and deputy excise commissioner Anand Kumar Tiwari, citing "serious lapses" while implementing the Excise Policy 2021-22, news agency PTI reported sources as saying.
The LG's office alleged "irregularities in finalising the tender and extending post-tender benefits" to certain vendors.
This decision is said to have been taken on the basis of an inquiry report by the Directorate of Vigilance (DoV).
'Using Baijal as 'Sacrificial Lamb': Sambit Patra
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Delhi government of using Baijal as a "sacrificial lamb" to try and "divert attention from the irregularities in its excise policy," since the CBI probe "is going to uncover those irregularities," he said at a press conference.
Patra asked why Sisodia, who heads the department, had been silent so far.
He claimed that Sisodia first exempted licence fees worth Rs 144 crore during the pandemic, without prior approval from the Cabinet.
BJP Delhi President Adesh Gupta said his party had been opposing the excise policy since day one and now the Kejriwal government's wrongdoings have been exposed.
(With inputs from PTI.)