Sunday, October 1, 2023

Excise scam: CBI grills more aides of Sisodia

The CBI has summoned for questioning on Saturday several accused in the corruption case related to the implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy, officials said.
The agency is examining the documents seized during raids at 31 places including the residence of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the officials said on Saturday.
They said once the process of examining the documents and electronic gadgets as well as the bank transactions is completed, summonses will be issued to other accused.
A CBI FIR, which was registered before a special court on Wednesday, has also been shared with the Enforcement Directorate, a financial probe agency, which will look into the allegations of money laundering. The agency on Friday carried out searches at 31 places which included premises related to Sisodia as well as some bureaucrats and businessmen.
The AAP condemned the raids with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claiming the agency has been “asked from above” to harass its leaders. The BJP asked the Delhi government to come out clean on its excise policy.
The CBI FIR, which was registered before a special court on Wednesday, has also been shared with the Enforcement Directorate, a financial probe agency, which will look into the allegations of money laundering.
Under the CBI probe are at least two payments in crores allegedly made to “close associates” of Sisodia by Sameer Mahendru, the owner of Indospirits, who was one of the liquor traders actively involved in alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy.
The FIR alleged Sisodia’s “close associates” Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt. Limited in Gurugram, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey were “actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees” to the accused public servants. The search operations on Friday continued for nearly 15 hours with the CBI team leaving Sisodia’s residence at around 11 pm.
The searches at the AAP leader’s home, the residence of IAS officer and former excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna, and 29 other places took place after the CBI registered an FIR for alleged corruption and bribery in formulation and execution of the Delhi Excise Policy brought out last November, officials said.
The policy was withdrawn in July this year after Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena called for a CBI probe.
The FIR on August 17 was based on a reference from the Lieutenant Governor’s office routed through the Union Home Ministry.
The CBI has invoked IPC section related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act in its FIR filed against 15 persons: Sisodia, public servants including Krishna, former Deputy Excise Commissioner Anand Tiwari and assistant excise commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar, nine businessmen and two companies.
Speaking to reporters after the raid, Sisodia had said on Friday, “The CBI team reached in the morning and searched the whole house. My family and myself extended them full cooperation. They seized my computer and mobile phone. They also took away some files.”
He alleged that the Centre was misusing the agency to stop the Arvind Kejriwal government from “doing good work” in Delhi.
The CBI, which registered an FIR in a special court here on Wednesday, began its raids from 8 am in seven states.
Sisodia immediately tweeted about the arrival of the sleuths at his home and “welcomed” the move.
The search operation expanded to 31 locations in Delhi, Gurugram, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Bengaluru which led to the recovery of “incriminating” documents, articles, digital records etc, the officials had said.
The damaging allegations in the FIR, based on a “source information” state that Sisodia and the accused public servants took decisions pertaining to the excise policy 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority with “an intention to extend undue favours to the licencees post tender”.
“It was alleged that irregularities were committed including in modifications in Excise Policy, extending undue favours to the licencees, waiver/reduction in licence fee, extension of L-1 licence without approval, etc.,” the CBI’s spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.



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