ED arrests AAP leader Sanjay Singh in Delhi excise policy case
The arrest came after day-long raids at Sanjay Singh’s residence and ED said the AAP leader will be produced before a court in Delhi
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday arrested senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and member of Parliament (MP) in the Rajya Sabha, Sanjay Singh after day-long raids at his residence in connection with its money laundering probe into irregularities in Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.
ED has alleged that Sanjay Singh played a key role in the formulation and implementation of the now scrapped policy, which benefited certain liquor manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.
Officials familiar with the development said Singh has been arrested under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and will be produced before a court in Delhi.
One of the ED charge sheets filed in May this year against former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia states that restauranteur Dinesh Arora was “extremely close” to both Singh and Sisodia.
The accused-turned-approver of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Arora was arrested by the ED in July, claiming that he was a key person in the scam.
ED has said that Arora initially met Singh, through whom he came in contact with Sisodia during a party at his own restaurant Unplugged Courtyard.
In 2020, ED alleged, Arora received a call from Singh saying that “Delhi assembly elections were coming, and AAP was in need of funds, and he should seek funding from other restaurateurs for the same”.
“On request of Singh, he spoke to many of the restaurant owners and arranged cheques amounting to ₹82 lakh (handed over to Sisodia) for collection of party funds for upcoming assembly elections in Delhi,” the ED charge sheet said.
After this event, Arora is said to have developed a personal relationship with Sisodia who would often visit his restaurant.
The Delhi government’s 2021-22 excise policy aimed to revitalise the city’s flagging liquor business. It aimed to replace a sales-volume based regime with a license fee-one for traders, and promised swankier stores, ultimately giving customers a better buying experience. The policy also introduced discounts and offers on the purchase of liquor, a first for Delhi.
The plan, however, came to an abrupt end, with Delhi’s lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommending a probe into alleged irregularities in the regime. This ultimately resulted in the policy being scrapped prematurely and being replaced by the 2020-21 regime, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleging that Saxena’s predecessor sabotaged the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.