Atishi accuses ED of deleting audios of statements in Delhi excise policy case
ED officials denied the allegations, saying CCTV footage at the agency’s office was recorded only in video format until October 2023
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi on Tuesday accused the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of deleting audios of statements of the accused and witnesses recorded as part of the money laundering probe linked to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy 2021-22.
She questioned who was the ED protecting and what it wanted to hide by deleting them. “The ED should submit details before court explaining how many audio recordings of the interrogations it has carried out in the last 1.5 years are available with it. If ED fails to submit the audio recordings before the court, then it is clear that there is... no evidence of what the witnesses have said...,” she said at a press conference.
The conference coincided with raids at the premises of AAP Rajya Sabha member ND Gupta, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s personal secretary, Bibhav Kumar, and other leaders of Delhi’s ruling party.
Atishi linked the raids with the “exposé” of the federal agency. She called the ED probe into the excise matter a “scam” because no recovery has been made so far.
ED officials denied the allegations, saying CCTV footage at the agency’s office was recorded only in video format until October 2023. “...the then available CCTV system at the ED office did not have the facility to record audio. ...no audio recording has ever been deleted,” said an official, who did not want to be named.
The official added the CCTV system at the ED Office was modernised with the latest facilities and upgraded storage facility in October 2023, enabling audio recording of the interrogations. “Since then, interrogation of all the accused persons have been done in the audio-video mode including that of arrested AAP leader Sanjay Singh...Baseless allegations are trumped up daily by AAP leaders just to discredit the evidence...,” said the official. “...ED may take serious legal action.”
ED officials maintained the agency records hundreds of statements in quasi-judicial proceedings in a professional manner. They maintained the statements of the accused were recorded under CCTV surveillance and were provided to the accused after they sought them. “The statements were also provided to the special court,” said a second official, who did not want to be named.
Atishi accused the agency of changing the statement of an unnamed accused in the excise case. “...an accused, a few days ago, submitted an application in the court seeking CCTV footage of his statement. The accused applied because the ED had put him face to face with a government witness in the case...questions were asked and statements were made by the accused and the government witness. It was all covered under CCTV. The accused saw that the written statement the ED submitted in the court was different from the discussions held in the room.”
She added it prompted the accused to seek the CCTV footage. “When the ED submitted the footage in the court, it deleted the audio of the discussion, and only video footage was submitted. All the evidence covering the discussions held in the room was deleted.”
She said the AAP has learned from “reliable sources” that “all audio recordings of the ED interrogations have been deleted.” Atishi alleged the ED tortured the accused into giving favourable statements. She said the statements in the case are also fake. “Had the statements not been fake, what was the need to delete the audio recordings?” Atishi asked. “It has been exposed that a scam is not being probed; the entire probe is a scam,” Atishi said.
Atishi called the fresh raids “an attempt to threaten the AAP” and added agencies were being used for it. “The ED was scared since yesterday [Monday] evening. They kept calling different people to inquire about the planned exposé. And to stop the exposé, they started conducting raids,” said Atishi.
People aware of the matter said the fresh raids were being conducted in connection with a money laundering probe related to the alleged siphoning of Delhi Jal Board funds.
Kejriwal on Friday last skipped the ED’s fifth summons for questioning in connection with the excise policy case. The policy was scrapped when Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommended a probe into alleged irregularities.
The AAP alleged that Saxena’s predecessor sabotaged the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.
The ED has alleged that the AAP received kickbacks of ₹100 crore to finalise the policy and that some of this money was used in its Goa elections campaign. The agency has arrested top AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh in connection with the case.
The AAP has denied all charges and called the case a “witch-hunt” and “political vendetta” at the behest of the Union government.
Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva welcomed the ongoing ED raids. “Arvind Kejriwal and his associates are involved in corruption. The probe agencies are doing their job to expose the corruption. The PM [Prime Minister] has given a guarantee that each penny looted from the government treasury will be recovered. The AAP has committed corruption and looted money.”