Delhi liquor policy: CBI raids Deputy CM Manish Sisodia's home
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched 21 places across the country on Friday, including the house of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. In response to allegations of corruption in the Delhi Excise Policy, the investigation agency is searching Sisodia's residence. "CBI is here at my residence. I will cooperate with the probe agency, they won't find anything against me," Sisodia asserted.
- The allegations relate to the Excise Policy that was recently dropped by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government amid a massive controversy and a dispute with Lieutenant-Governor (LG) VK Saxena. He had demanded a CBI investigation into allegations of rule violations and procedural breaches.
- The November implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy privatized the sale of alcoholic beverages and closed all government-run liquor stores.
Sisodia, in a subtle attack on the Centre, stated that these people are upset because of the outstanding work being done by the Delhi government in the education and health sectors, which is why ministers from both departments are being targeted. "Truth will come out in the court," he reportedly stated. The residences of three Delhi government officials are also being reportedly searched.
The CBI is looking into three allegations: The new policy resulted in a massive loss for the public coffers. Retail outlets were given to ineligible players. AAP government reportedly profited from kickbacks and "commissions." On July 30, Sisodia, who oversees the Excise department, announced a reversal of the policy and stated that as of August 1, only government establishments would sell alcohol in Delhi.
The CBI investigation was recommended after the Chief Secretary of Delhi filed a report in July detailing infractions of several norms and "deliberate and gross procedural lapses" to grant "undue benefits to liquor licensees" after the tender, as per officials. The LG alleged the new excise policy was established "solely" to benefit private liquor barons and top government officials up to and including Sisodia.
"Minister In-charge of the Excise Department, Manish Sisodia took and got executed, major decisions/actions in violation of the statutory provisions and the notified Excise Policy that had huge financial implications," Lieutenant Governor Saxena stated earlier. In response, the AAP alleged that Saxena was working on the orders of the Centre, which is keen to halt the party's rise.
Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, said that previous searches found nothing against his government and that nothing would be found this time as well. Notably, Sisodia is the latest in a long line of opposition leaders reportedly targeted by central agencies, including Delhi's Health Minister Satyender Jain, who has been under judicial custody ever since he was arrested on May 30.