Delhi lost 2,873 crore due to excise policy loopholes: ED to city court

Updated on Dec 01, 2022 12:22 AM IST

The agency made the claims during a remand application for to seek the custody of businessman Amit Arora, who was arrested on Tuesday.

New Delhi: Buddy Retail Pvt Limited Director Amit Arora being produced at the Rouse Avenue court in connection with the alleged Delhi Excise Policy scam, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. (PTI Photo) (PTI11_30_2022_000130A) (PTI)
New Delhi: Buddy Retail Pvt Limited Director Amit Arora being produced at the Rouse Avenue court in connection with the alleged Delhi Excise Policy scam, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022. (PTI Photo) (PTI11_30_2022_000130A) (PTI)

Loopholes in Delhi’s now-scrapped excise policy that was put in place last year led to a loss of 2,873 crore, the Enforcement Directorate alleged in a city court on Wednesday, escalating the controversy between the central government and the Capital’s elected administration under the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The agency made the claims during a remand application for to seek the custody of businessman Amit Arora, who was arrested on Tuesday. In it, the agency cited purported losses on account of surrendered licenses and because vends did not open in certain wards that were classified as non-conforming areas (mostly consisting of unauthorised markets).

Representatives of AAP and the Delhi government did not respond to requests for a comment but the administration and party has denied the charges as lies and part of a ploy by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to destabilise the government.

Also read: Gurugram cyclist mowed down by car near Delhi airport, driver nabbed

In its remand application related to Arora, the agency made claims concerning AAP member and co-accused Vijay Nair.

“Vijay Nair is not an ordinary worker of the AAP but a close associate of Arvind Kejriwal, the CM of Delhi… Further, Nair, since 2020, has been residing in the government bungalow allotted to a cabinet minister of Delhi government…Nair, does not have any other residence in Delhi, the irony being that (city minister Kailash) Gahlot lives at another private residence in Najafgarh,” the agency said.

The agency claimed Nair, in “conspiracy and collusion” with businessmen and co-accused Dinesh and Amit Arora, “arm twisted few wholesalers to surrender their L1 licenses and then coerced manufacturers to choose the wholesalers of his choice and to direct the profit margins to persons of their choice (who were agreeable to fulfilling the kickback demands)”.

This is the first time allegations of such nature are being made and any probe agency has offered a figure for the alleged losses.

The agency has also said the policy went against the suggestion of an expert committee that sent its recommendations to a Group of Ministers (GoM) comprising ministers Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Gahlot, and that public opinion was not sought, which suggested there was “malafide intention and conspiracy”.

To be sure, a government is not bound by the recommendations of an expert committee.

With respect to Amit Arora, who was sent to seven days police custody, the agency alleged he was one of the key people along with Dinesh Arora who actively assisted Nair.

Amit Arora’s counsel Ajit Kumar Singh opposed the remand application saying that his client has co-operated in the investigation and has appeared before the agency 22 times for questioning.

The agency contended that the loss was illegally diverted into ostentatious profits to wholesalers, which was used to recoup the kickbacks paid in advance by an entity called the South group.

Also read: Watch: Woman thrashes man with slippers at ‘Beti Bachao’ event in Delhi

ED has referred to the ‘South Group’ as a set of individuals who paid kickbacks to Nair. It is, according to ED, “controlled by Sarath Reddy, K Kavitha and Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy.

The controversy relating to the excise scam came into view this July, when the lieutenant governor ordered an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation, citing a report from the chief secretary who at the time said there were prime facie irregularities.

The policy was meant to overhaul the city’s liquor business, which included the government exiting the sector and allowing market forces to determine the trade in the hopes that it would make the experience better for customers and expecting competition to drive down prices.

Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Reports from the Delhi High Court and stories on legal developments in the city. Avid mountain lover, cooking and playing with birds 🐦 when not at work

SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, February 02, 2023
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals