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May 21, 2024

Delhi Liquor Policy Scandal: Court Extends Manish Sisodia’s Custody Amid Ongoing Investigations

The judicial custody of former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has been extended until May 31 in connection with the alleged excise policy scam. This decision was made during a recent court hearing, with the next court date also set for May 31. Sisodia, along with another accused, has been in judicial custody related to the controversial Delhi liquor policy case.

Background and Arrests

Manish Sisodia, an influential member of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has been accused of irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi liquor excise policy for the fiscal year 2021-22. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested him in February last year after an intensive eight-hour interrogation. Subsequently, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) took him into custody on March 9, intensifying the investigation into alleged money laundering activities linked to the policy.

AAP Named in the Excise Scam Case

On May 17, the ED informed the Supreme Court that it has officially named the AAP as an accused party in the ongoing investigation. This declaration was made by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju during a hearing of a petition filed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, challenging his own arrest by the ED. This marks the ED’s ninth supplementary charge-sheet in the case, highlighting the extensive scope of the investigation.

AAP’s Response to the Allegations

The Aam Aadmi Party has firmly denied the allegations, accusing the ED of acting as a political tool for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In a public statement, the AAP characterized the ED’s investigation as a politically motivated witch-hunt designed to tarnish the party’s reputation and destabilize its leadership.

Kejriwal Granted Temporary Bail

In a related development, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was granted temporary bail by the Supreme Court last Friday. The court’s decision allows Kejriwal to remain free until June 1, enabling him to continue his active campaign for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. However, he is restricted from performing official duties during this period, as per the court’s orders.

Details of the Alleged Excise Scam

The crux of the scandal lies in the alleged manipulation and misconduct associated with the Delhi liquor policy of 2021-22. The investigative agencies have accused several top AAP leaders, including Kejriwal, Sisodia, and MP Sanjay Singh, of orchestrating a scheme to solicit bribes from liquor businessmen in exchange for favorable policy adjustments. The ED has specifically accused Kejriwal of demanding a bribe of Rs 100 crore to influence the policy framework.

The ED’s investigation has also implicated a so-called “south group,” which allegedly comprises liquor businessmen and politicians who supposedly paid bribes to benefit from the policy. Notably, K Kavitha, a leader of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), has been named as an associate of this group, adding another layer of complexity to the case.

Initiation of the Investigation

The inquiry into the excise policy was initiated shortly after Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena took office in May 2022. Following numerous allegations of corruption and irregularities, the policy was ultimately scrapped in July 2022. This move was seen as a response to mounting public and political pressure to address the purported misconduct.

Ongoing Legal Proceedings

As the legal battles continue, the extension of Sisodia’s custody underscores the seriousness with which the judiciary and investigative agencies are approaching this case. The upcoming court dates will likely bring further developments as both sides present their arguments and evidence. The outcome of these proceedings could have significant implications for the AAP and its leadership, as well as for the broader political landscape in Delhi and beyond.

In conclusion, the extension of Manish Sisodia’s custody is a pivotal moment in the ongoing investigation into the Delhi excise policy scam. As the legal and political drama unfolds, all eyes will be on the forthcoming court sessions and the potential revelations they may bring.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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