AAP leader Manish Sisodia (File Image)
Photo : PTI
New Delhi: In a relief for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia, Delhi's Rouse Avenue Court on Monday granted interim bail to him for two days in the Delhi liquor excise policy scam case. Sisodia will be released on February 13 at 5 pm and has to surrender on February 15 at 5 pm.
Sisodia sought interim bail from February 12 to 16 on the grounds of attending the marriage of her niece in Uttar Pradesh's Lucknow. However, the court allowed the application for two days only. The AAP leader will be allowed to travel and attend the marriage without any presence of police officials.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), strongly opposed the interim bail application stating that he is highly influential and that if allowed this will set a wrong precedent.
The CBI had arrested the Delhi's former deputy chief minister on February 26, 2023 over alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22. Days after the arrest by the CBI, Sisodia was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on March 9 from Tihar jail in a related money laundering case.
What is delhi Liquor Exice Policy Case?
The Delhi government proposed a new liquor policy in 2020, which went into effect in November 2021. The goal was to ensure a fair distribution of liquor vends, prevent black marketing, increase government's revenue from liquor sales, and enhance the consumer experience by offering discounts, home delivery, and other incentives.
Under the new policy, the government divided the city into 32 zones, each having 27 private liquor vends. However, the opposition raised concerns about the policy even before it was implemented.
In July 2022, Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar submitted a report to Manish Sisodia, highlighting "procedural lapses" and irregularities in the new policy. A copy of the report was also sent to CM Kejriwal, Delhi's Lieutenant Governor, and Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW).
As per the submitted report, Sisodia allegedly made changes in the excise policy without L-G's approval. The report claimed that Sisodia instructed the excise department to waive Rs 144.36 crore from the liquor cartel's tendered licence fee, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report also claimed that Sisodia provided unwarranted benefits to liquor licensees by lowering the rates of foreign liquor and eliminating the import pass fee of Rs 50 per case of beer. This allegedly resulted in foreign liquor becoming cheaper for retail, causing a loss of revenue for the state exchequer.