In a major development, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal on November 2 in connection with the Delhi excise policy case.
This comes after the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the bail pleas of former Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in connection with corruption and money-laundering cases involving now-scrapped excise policy for the national capital.
The verdict was pronounced by a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti, which had reserved its verdict on October 17 on both pleas.
On February 26, Sisodia was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for his alleged role in the “scam”. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has been in custody since then. The ED arrested Sisodia in a money-laundering case stemming from the CBI FIR on March 9 after questioning him in the Tihar jail.
On October 17, the apex court had informed ED that it would be challenging to establish Sisodia’s money-laundering case if a bribe purportedly received for altering the Delhi excise policy is not included in the predicate offence. It had informed the federal agency that it could not operate under the presumption that bribes were paid and that it was necessary to provide any legal protections.
Why did the HC deny bail to Sisodia?
The high court denied him bail in the CBI case on May 30, saying having been the deputy chief minister and excise minister, he is a “high-profile” person who has the potential to influence the witnesses. On July 3, the high court declined him bail in the money-laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the city government’s excise policy, holding that the charges against him are “very serious in nature”.
The Delhi government had implemented the policy on November 17, 2021, but scrapped it at the end of September 2022 amid allegations of corruption. According to the investigating agencies, the profit margins of wholesalers were increased from 5 to 12 per cent under the new policy.
The ED’s money laundering case stems from the CBI FIR. According to the CBI and the ED, irregularities were committed while modifying the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 and undue favours were extended to licence holders.
The agencies have alleged that the new policy resulted in cartelisation and those ineligible for liquor licences were favoured for monetary benefits. However, the Delhi government and Sisodia have denied any wrongdoing and said the new policy would have led to an increase in the State’s revenue share.