Atishi calls probe into Delhi excise case a scam, claims ED deleted statements
She said no recovery has been made so far while claiming the agency has deleted “statements of the accused and witnesses, which were the only basis of the case”
Delhi minister Atishi on Tuesday linked the Enforcement Directorate (ED)’s raids at the premises of Rajya Sabha member ND Gupta, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s personal secretary, Bibhav Kumar, and other Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders to the “exposé” of the federal agency that the party planned on Tuesday. She called the ED probe into the excise matter a “scam” because no recovery has been made so far while claiming the agency has deleted “statements of the accused and witnesses, which were the only basis of the case.”
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 where 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 that 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, the ED 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.
She questioned who is the ED protecting and what it wants to hide by deleting the audio recordings. “The ED should submit details before the court explaining how many audio recordings of the interrogations it has carried out in the last 1.5 years are available with the ED. If ED fails to submit the audio recordings before the court, then it is clear that there is no recovery... no evidence of what the witnesses have said is available.”
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 expose, they started conducting raids,” said Atishi at a press conference.
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.
There was no immediate response from the ED and the story will be updated when the agency responds.
Kejriwal on Friday last skipped the ED’s fifth summons for questioning in connection with the money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped excise policy 2021-22. The policy introduced discounts and offers on the purchase of liquor for the first time in Delhi.
The policy was scrapped when Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommended a probe into alleged irregularities in the regime. 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. The party has been seeking public feedback on whether Kejriwal should step down as chief minister if he is arrested.
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.”