Delhi liquor policy case: Manish Sisodia's aide to turn approver
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday petitioned a Delhi court to make Dinesh Arora, a businessman and aide of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, a government witness in the Delhi liquor policy case, NDTV reported. To note, the same court granted Arora—who is now set to become an approver—anticipatory bail last week, and the CBI didn't object to it, it said.
Why does this story matter?
- On recommendations of Delhi Lieutenant-Governor VK Saxena, the CBI is probing alleged irregularities by Delhi's AAP administration in issuing liquor licenses under its Excise Policy 2021-22.
- Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) National Convener and Delhi CM 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 Assembly elections are over.
What happened in the court?
The CBI earlier on Monday moved a plea in a Delhi court under Section 306 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to make Arora a witness in the case. The CBI has said the businessman cooperated with investigators and gave key information. The court will decide whether the CBI should be allowed to make Arora an approver on November 14, PTI reported.
Setback for AAP ahead of Gujarat polls
Arora, one of the key accused in the case, turning into a government witness is a setback for Sisodia as the campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly elections is underway. The Delhi government came out with a new policy for selling liquor in the national capital last November. However, Saxena red-flagged it over alleged corruption and recommended the CBI to look into it in July.
Action against accused last month
In September, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested liquor baron Sameer Mahendru in Delhi in connection with its money laundering investigation into the now-scrapped liquor policy. The CBI had booked Arora and the AAP's communications head Vijay Nair in the same month. According to a CBI FIR, another Sisodia aide Arjun Pandey took Rs. 2-4 crore in cash from Mahendru on behalf of Nair.
Important details about the case
To recall, the Delhi AAP administration implemented the now-scrapped liquor policy in November 2021, and the ED is currently looking into suspected irregularities in its creation and execution. Although the policy has now been reversed, the probe into it is still on. In connection with the liquor policy case, the ED earlier in September raided nearly 200 places in Delhi and other cities.
The policy was scrapped in July
The ED launched its investigation into the matter in response to a CBI FIR, which names Sisodia as the key accused in the case. The claims of irregularities in the execution of the Delhi liquor policy have, however, been rejected by Sisodia and the AAP. Enforced in November 2021 and scrapped in July 2022, it privatized the sale of alcoholic beverages in Delhi.