The Aam Admi Party (AAP) on Monday will carry out a nationwide protest against the arrest of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia in the Delhi liquor scam. Sisodia will be presented before Avenue court today and the CBI is expected to get custody of the minister.
After being interrogated for nearly eight hours by the Central Bureau of Investigation, Sisodia was arrested in connection with the alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi liquor policy for 2021-22. The minister was grilled on various aspects of the Excise policy, his alleged link with Dinesh Arora and other accused in the FIR, and details of message exchanges from multiple phones among others, officials said.
Ahead of his questioning, the minister told reporters that he was not afraid of going to jail. "When I left my job as a journalist, my wife supported me. Even today, my family is standing by my side. My workers will take care of my family if I get arrested," he said.
While the national capital has been put on alert in view of the protests and elaborate security arrangements have been made by the Delhi Police to maintain a law and order situation, we review what the situation is like here:
AAP leaders detained
Several AAP leaders have been detained outside of the CBI headquarters in New Delhi where Sisodia has been summoned in connection with the excise policy case.
According to the Delhi Police around 50 people have been detained including AAP MP Sanjay Singh and Delhi Minister Gopal Rai. The leaders from the party arrived outside the headquarters in support of Sisodia.
They carried posters that read, “Me and my family are with Manish Sisodia.”
Confirming their detention, AAP MLA Kuldeep Kumar said, "We were protesting peacefully but were detained." Gopal Rai, the environment minister in the Delhi government, said the police were taking him away in his car. In a tweet in Hindi, Rai said, "Modi ji's hooliganism at its peak... I cannot walk without someone's help but police surrounded my car from all sides and forcefully made the person accompanying me get down... Policemen barged inside my car and are taking me. This is the height of hooliganism but neither will we be scared nor will we bow down."
What is the Delhi liquor policy scam?
The case pertains to the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. It was scrapped on July 30 after Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommended a CBI inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the policy.
The policy was implemented on November 17 2021. Under the policy, Delhi was divided into 32 excise zones and retail liquor licenses were issued to private players for 849 vends. It marked the exit of the government from the liquor business in Delhi.
"It aimed to end the liquor mafia and black marketing, increase revenue and improve the consumer experience, and ensure equitable distribution of liquor vends," reported The Indian Express.
The Delhi government also gave certain relaxations to sellers, such as the permission to offer discounts to consumers to boost sales and to set their own prices irrespective of the MRP of the product.
What are the allegations over Delhi excise policy?
Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena last month recommended the CBI probe over alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses in the formulation and implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22. Saxena's action was based on a report submitted by Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is under the scanner as he holds the excise portfolio in the Delhi Cabinet.
Kumar's report alleged that Sisodia provided undue benefits to liquor vend licensees in lieu of "kickbacks" and "commissions" that were allegedly used by AAP in the Punjab Assembly elections in February, reported The Express.
The CBI lodged the FIR in the case on August 17 and raided 31 locations across seven states and Union territories on August 19, including the residence of Sisodia in Delhi.
The CBI has also alleged that Sisodia and excise officials gave undue benefits to liquor license holders. It has also alleged that people in the liquor business were "actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy". Such accused include Vijay Nair; Manoj Rai, a former employee of wine and spirits giant Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal of Brindco Spirits; and Sameer Mahendru of Indospirit.