Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has reacted angrily to the claims made by the Enforcement Directorate that it had attached immovable assets worth Rs. 52.24 crore belonging to the jailed AAP leader Manish Sisodia and others accused in the liquor scam case.
The ED had tweeted, “ED has provisionally attached movable and immovable assets worth Rs. 52.24 Crore belonging to Manish Sisodia, Amandeep Singh Dhall, Rajesh Joshi, Gautam Malhotra and others in the case of Delhi Liquor Scam. Total attachment in the case is now Rs. 128.78 Crore.”
The announcement by ED evoked angry reactions from Kejriwal and his colleagues as they accused the federal probe agency of defaming Sisodia.
Addressing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kejriwal wrote on Twitter, “Prime Minister, when you did not find anything against Manish Sisodia, then you started defaming Manish through ED?
“Your ED has been running false news on TV channels since evening that Manish Sisodia’s property worth 52 crores has been confiscated. Here are the papers of the property actually seized by ED. Total property worth 80 lakhs has been confiscated, that too before 2018, when the excise policy was not formulated. The entire property is declared and legal.
“People never thought that a day would come when a great country like India would get such a Prime Minister who would try to eliminate his political rivals by lying openly like this. You also know who the real corrupt are. If you have the courage, then catch them.”
Sisodia’s AAP colleague and now a minister in the Kejriwal government, Atishi, claimed that one of Sisodia’s flats was just worth Rs. 5 lakh. This made many wonder if anyone can buy a flat in Ghaziabad for just Rs. 5 lakh. Ghaziabad is situated next to Delhi, India’s national capital.
Sisodia was arrested on 26 February in the liquor scam case. He was later removed as the deputy chief minister of Delhi by the AAP government headed by Arvind Kejriwal.
What’s Liquor Scam
The Delhi Excise Police was first proposed in 2020. The central idea behind implementing policy was to remove the Delhi government from the liquor business and hand over the business to private players. The AAP government said that its intention was to crack down the liquor mafia in line with its stand on corruption.
The new policy was implemented in November last year.
Under the new policy, the minimum age of buying and consumption of alcohol was brought down from 25 to 21. Shops were also allowed to offer discounts on liquor for the first time. This prompted government stores, wanting to clear their old stock, to offer buy-one-get-one discounts before the new policy kicked in.
The national capital was divided into 32 zones with each zone having 27 liquor vends.
A total of 849 new licences were given to private players through a public tendering process initiated by the Excise Department under the control of Sisodia.
What causes trouble for Sisodia is a report by a civil servant from his own government, who accused him of ‘deliberate and gross procedural lapses’ to provide post-tender ‘undue benefits to liquor licensees.’
The report by Delhi’s chief secretary, submitted to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, highlighted prima facie violations of several laws including GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009, and Delhi Excise Rules-2010.
The report also stated that Sisodia gave undue favours in awarding the liquor licences by revising the rates of foreign liquor and removing the levy fee of Rs. 50 on imported beer. Sisodia is accused of making these and other changes in the Excise Policy without the approval of the LG. Under the rules, any changes made in the excise policy after its implementation has to be submitted to the cabinet before being sent to the LG for approval.