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Delhi LG recommends CBI probe into alleged violation of excise policy; AAP lashes out at Centre

New Delhi: Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena has recommended an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the alleged violations of the Arvind Kejriwal-led government's new contentious excise policy including "deliberate and gross procedural lapses" made by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia to "provide post tender undue benefits to liquor licensees."

A report on July 8 by the Chief Secretary established prima facie violations of GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR) 1993, Delhi Excise Act 2009 and Delhi Excise Rules 2010. The report indicates substantively of financial quid pro quo at the top political level and that Delhi excise policy was implemented with the sole aim of benefitting private liquor barons for financial benefits to individuals at the highest rungs of the government leading up to Manish Sisodia.

The Minister in charge of the Excise Department, Manish Sisodia took and got executed, major decisions/actions in violation of the statutory provisions and the notified Excise Policy that had huge financial implications, officials at the LG office said.
The LG office said that Sisodia also extended "undue financial favours" to the liquor licensees much after the tenders had been awarded and thus caused huge losses to the ex-chequer.

Sisodia's role is under the scanner for alleged deliberate and gross procedural lapses which provided undue benefits to the tender process for liquor licensees for the year 2021-22, officials in the Lieutenant-Governor's office told ANI.
The excise policy was passed in chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi Cabinet in the middle of the deadly Delta Covid-19 pandemic in 2021.

As migrants were leaving the city, dhabas, restaurants, hotels, gyms, schools, and all other business establishments were facing closure, the excise department under Sisodia allegedly allow a waiver of Rs 144.36 crores to a liquor cartel with an excuse of COVID-19 pandemic.

"While people were dying, livelihoods collapsing, businesses shutting down that could have been helped by giving financial assistance, all that the Kejriwal government had on mind was benefitting merchants of alcohol in lieu of kickbacks and commissions," the LG office said.

However, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has claimed that the new excise policy was formulated to ensure the generation of optimum revenue, and eradicate the sale of spurious liquor or non-duty paid liquor in Delhi, besides improving user experience.

AAP national spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj told reporters the CBI investigation has been ordered at the behest of the central government.

"In 2016, when our government had completed one year, even then the central government was nervous and efforts were made to stop the work of Kejriwal government. The then LG got instructions from the Prime Minister's Office and by forming a Shinglu committee, 400 of our files were examined but nothing came out," he said.

He lashed out at the Central government saying that the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were jealous of the rising popularity of AAP across the country and would do anything to stop them.

"We already knew this, Arvind Kejriwal has also said that after Satyendra Jain, the central government will try to trap Manish Sisodia in any case. But it will not happen. Their effort is to restrict AAP only in Delhi and Punjab, but people are watching and they will not allow this to happen," Bharadwaj added.
The new Excise policy 2021-22 was implemented in November last year.

"I asked a question (in Parliament) that what is the amount that the Govt earned in last 6 years through excise duty on petrol & diesel. The Govt, in a written reply, told me that Govt of India earned excise duty of more than Rs 16 Lakh crore in last six years," AAP Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha told ANI.

He argued that even if one combines the Budgets of several Indian states, it would perhaps not cross the figure of Rs 16 Lakh crore.

"What do we call it if not a loot? What did the government do with it? They used our money to pay off loans of big industrialists and loot common man and poor," Chadha added. (ANI)

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