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Manish Sisodia demands CBI probe against former Delhi L-G Anil Baijal

Updated on Aug 07, 2022 04:45 AM IST

The senior AAP leader, who is also Delhi’s excise and finance minister, said he has written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the matter.

Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. (ANI Photo)
By, New Delhi

Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday acknowledged that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the national capital incurred losses worth “thousands of crores of rupees” under the new excise policy 2021-22, but blamed it on the previous Lieutenant Governor (LG), alleging that he “made a U-turn at the last moment” before implementing the new regime from November 17 last year.

The senior AAP leader, who is also Delhi’s excise and finance minister, said he has written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the matter.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday from his residence in central Delhi’s Mathura Road, Sisodia said the file on the 2021-22 excise policy went to then LG Anil Baijal twice before its implementation. In the first instance, Baijal sent back the file with certain suggestions and changes, which were then incorporated by the Delhi government, the deputy CM said.

Also Read | Delhi LG Saxena suspends 11 excise officials for ‘lapses’ in city liquor policy

“Under the new excise policy, 849 shops were to be opened across Delhi, including in unauthorised areas. The LG did not object to the proposal and approved it,” Sisodia said.

“The file, after making the necessary changes as suggested by the LG, was sent for a second time in November first week. The new policy was to be implemented from November 17 and the LG returned the file on November 15, just 48 hours before the launch, asking us to make major changes to it. The LG said that we need to get permission from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the municipal corporation for permitting liquor shops in unauthorised colonies,” Sisodia said.

The office of the LG and Baijal did not comment on the matter.

The Delhi excise policy has been withdrawn and extended just for a month to prevent a chaotic transition, and to ensure a smooth change to a system where only government-run stores will sell liquor from September 1. (HT Illustration)

The Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged irregularities in the new excise policy and said that by withdrawing it, the AAP was trying to hide its corrupt practices.

“The CBI must probe why the LG modified the excise policy overnight. The CBI should ask him under whose pressure did he extend financial favours to some liquor licencees. I have sent the details of this illicit setup to the CBI and requested them to conduct a detailed investigation on this matter,” Sisodia said.

Baijal was the Delhi LG when the Arvind Kejriwal government prepared the new excise policy, which was implemented on November 17, 2021.

Sisodia said that the suggestion to consult the DDA for opening liquor vends in unauthorised colonies was not mentioned by the LG in his previous remarks on the excise policy of 2021-22. It was only when the file pertaining to opening liquor shops after completion of the tender and allotment of licences to vendors went to the LG that he raised this new objection at the last moment, Sisodia said.

“Because of this, the Delhi government suffered losses worth thousands of crores of rupees, as close to 300-350 shops that were to open in unauthorised colonies could never operate under the new regime. As a result, the few companies who managed to open liquor shops in Delhi earned huge profits, while others suffered. The primary aim of the new excise policy was to put an end to the inequitable distribution of liquor shops, which could never be achieved because of the decision of the LG,” Sisodia said, alleging that the LG’s “sudden change in stance” could have been intentional in order to benefit certain private companies or individuals.

He added that Baijal changed his decision without discussing it with the cabinet and passed the order without the elected government’s knowledge.

“In previous excise policies, all the former LGs allowed opening of liquor stores in unauthorised colonies, the same was allowed by the LG in the new excise policy as well. But why was the policy modified so abruptly at the last moment? Why was the condition to get DDA-MCD NOCs added to it?”

Minutes after Sisodia’s allegations on Saturday, the Raj Niwas said that current LG VK Saxena approved the suspension and initiation of “major disciplinary proceedings” against the then Delhi excise commissioner (IAS officer) Arava Gopi Krishna and DANICS officer Anand Kumar Tiwari (deputy excise commissioner), apart from three other ad hoc DANICS officers and four other officials.

The excise policy 2021-22, approved by the state cabinet chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in May last year, came under a lot of fire after the new LG referred it to the CBI for a probe, flagging alleged irregularities.

The policy has been withdrawn and extended just for a month to prevent a chaotic transition, and to ensure a smooth change to a system where only government-run stores will sell liquor from September 1.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday said that the AAP government used to say that the excise policy would revolutionise Delhi’s liquor business and increase the state’s revenue, but now, as soon as a CBI investigation has started, the AAP has started finding faults in its own policy.

“Now, when the heat of investigation has reached the AAP government in Delhi, they (Sisodia and Kejriwal) are busy finding a scapegoat. Sisodia is accusing the LG for making last-minute changes in the policy, but why is it that after 10 months of this policy being implemented in November last year, the AAP leaders are seeing flaws in it now,” said BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra.

“From the very first day, the Delhi government had accepted that the new excise policy is a milch cow. In this policy, liquor makers were also given licences for retail trade, as well as blacklisted companies were also given licences and groupers were also allowed to participate. Going out of the rules, licences of shops were given even in those areas where they could not be opened,” Patra added.

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