Delhi liquor policy case: ED arrests pharma, liquor company heads
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma's director Sharath Reddy and Pernod Ricard general manager Benoy Babu over alleged money laundering in the Delhi liquor policy case late on Wednesday. Reddy allegedly helped in moving kickbacks paid for liquor store licenses and played a role in cartelizing the granting of licenses while Babu is allegedly associated with others accused in the case.
Why does this story matter?
On recommendations of Delhi Lieutenant-Governor VK Saxena, investigation agencies are probing alleged irregularities by Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) administration in issuing liquor licenses under its Excise Policy 2021-22. AAP National Convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, however, alleged the CBI is being used by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to harass, intimidate, and jail AAP leaders till the Gujarat elections are over.
Why were they arrested?
Sources said Reddy was arrested based on the evidence against him. The ED earlier raided his premises and questioned him twice in the case. Babu was arrested for his alleged non-cooperation during the investigation. Among over 100 searches conducted throughout the country in the case, last month the ED raided at least 35 locations in Delhi, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana.
Previous arrests made in the case
In October, the ED arrested Abhishek Boinpally, who was allegedly lobbying for some liquor businessmen from South India. In September, it arrested Indospirit managing director Sameer Mahendru a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested AAP communications chief Vijay Nair, who is a close aide of Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia — the key accused in the case.
What did the CBI say in its FIR?
The case is based on a CBI FIR that alleges that Sisodia's aide Arjun Pandey collected Rs. 2 to 4 crore in cash from Mahendru on behalf of Nair. Citing "reliable sources," the CBI had alleged that Nair, Mahendru, and two others, were "actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy." Nair was reportedly AAP's communications in-charge for the Gujarat election.