Federal Agency Raids Several Places in Case Related to Delhi Government's Liquor Policy
13:27 GMT 16.09.2022 (Updated: 11:42 GMT 10.12.2022)
© AP Photo / Aijaz RahiAn Indian man reacts in joy after buying a bottle of liquor from an outlet during a lockdown to curb the spread of new coronavirus, in Bangalore, India, Wednesday, May 6, 2020
© AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi
The Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government has come under the spotlight of federal agencies over the liquor policy introduced in November 2021. However, it was rolled back in July 2022 after Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena suggested that it was in violation of the rules and demanded an inquiry by the country's top anti-corruption watchdog.
India’s economic intelligence and law enforcement agency - the Enforcement Directorate (ED) - on Friday conducted raids on 40 locations of various states in connection with a corruption case related to a liquor policy launched by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government.
Kejriwal heads the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is the governing party in Delhi and Punjab.
The raids were conducted on premises linked to liquor businessmen, distributors and supply chain networks at several cities of states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi.
The agency also questioned Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain in Tihar jail. He has been serving a prison sentence since May when he was arrested in connection with a money-laundering case filed by authorities against him and his family members in August 2017.
This second round of raids was carried out a day after the federally ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) released a sting operation video to allege that the AAP government received kickbacks from important players in the liquor industry.
The first round of raids by the ED was conducted on 6 September when searches were carried out at 35 locations in Delhi and other cities.
The alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of the now rolled-back Delhi Excise Policy are being probed by the ED on the basis of a complaint filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In its complaint, the country's top anti-corruption watchdog has named Delhi Deputy State Chief Manish Sisodia and some bureaucrats as the accused in the case related to liquor policy scam.
Delhi's AAP-led government brought out a new liquor policy in November 2021 under which the licenses for liquor shops in the city were given to private businessmen while government shops were shut down.
Under the new policy, the AAP had plans to open more than 800 liquor shops. However, the policy was rolled back in July after the federal government’s representative in Delhi, Saxena, alleged that the policy is in violation of rules and recommended an inquiry by a federal agency into the policy.
In August, the agency carried out searches at 20 locations including Sisodia's residence in Delhi as well as the residence of former Excise Commissioner of Delhi, Arava Gopi Krishna in Daman and Diu.
Ever since the searches were conducted, the AAP and the BJP have been engaged in a political squabble. The AAP has refuted the allegations of corruption while the BJP has accused it of looting the wealth of the people of Delhi. Both are slated to take each other on in Delhi's forthcoming civic elections soon.