No new date announced: CBI after Delhi Dy CM Manish Sisodia skips summons
19 February, 2023 | Pragati Singh
CBI will set a fresh date to summon Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
An official stated on Sunday that the CBI will set a fresh date to summon Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in connection with the Excise Policy money laundering case. The CBI officer told ANI, “Manish Sisodia is not joining the investigation today at CBI Headquarters, and no new date for the same has been announced so far.” The CBI had called Sisodia for interrogation regarding alleged discrepancies in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22, to which the deputy CM responded by asking the federal agency to call him anytime after February-end because he was busy preparing the national capital’s Budget.
“I will visit the CBI office after February, whenever they (CBI) call me. As the Finance minister, I am responsible for preparing the Budget. It is very important. Hence, I have requested the CBI to set a new date to summon me. I have always cooperated with the agencies,” Sisodia told mediapersons earlier on Sunday.
However, in an interview with ANI on Sunday, the AAP leader related the CBI summons in the excise policy case to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the MCD mayoral elections on Friday, which he described as a smack in the face to the BJP. Sisodia stated that he received the CBI summons on Saturday, exactly one day after the Supreme Court ordered that the election for Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) be held first and that nominated persons had no right to vote at Corporation meetings.
On February 17, a court led by Supreme Justice of India DY Chandrachud asked the authority concerned to serve notice for the election of mayor, adding that the first meeting of the MCD be held within 24 hours. The court also ordered that the notice mention the date of the election of the mayor, deputy mayor, and other members.
Following the Court’s orders, L-G VK Saxena authorised the request to hold a meeting of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi on February 22 for Mayoral elections, Deputy Mayor elections, and the election of six members of the standing committee.
Hinting that the CBI summons was the BJP’s way of getting back at AAP after the apex court setback over the holding of mayoral elections in the national capital, Sisodia said, “If we look at the sequence of events, the Supreme Court gave its decision on MCD polls on Friday evening, dealing a blow to the BJP. Just a day later, on Saturday, I received CBI summons (in the excise policy case), which said I was to appear on Sunday, at a time when I am busy preparing the Budget,” the deputy CM said.
“I can accept the BJP coming after me after the SC ruling came as a slap on its face. It is the level of politics they resort to. But what I find unacceptable and wrong is that they are doing this at a time when the Budget is at its finishing stage and any delay in the process could bring our work for the city and its people to a halt,” he added.
According to authorities, the CBI summoned Sisodia roughly three months after filing a chargesheet in the Delhi excise policy case. However, Sisodia is not mentioned as an accused in the case’s chargesheet. The chargesheet names seven defendants, including arrested businessmen Vijay Nair and Abhishek.
In connection with the case, the CBI searched Sisodia’s bank locker in August of last year. The deputy CM said that the sleuths found no evidence of wrongdoing in his locker. According to a CBI officer, several raids were conducted last year at 21 locations in Delhi and the National Capital Region, including Sisodia’s residence and the offices of four public workers. The raids were also done in seven states.
The CBI initiated an investigation into the case after receiving a report suggesting an investigation by the Delhi Chief Secretary to Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena. The excise proposal was approved by the Delhi Cabinet led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the midst of the fatal Delta Covid-19 outbreak in 2021.
According to the Delhi government, the policy was developed to ensure maximum revenue generation and to eliminate the sale of fake liquor or non-duty paid booze in Delhi, as well as to improve user experience. The Delhi government’s strategy of giving liquor licences has been accused of being in the interests of some sellers who reportedly paid bribes for it, a claim vigorously disputed by the AAP.
Following L-advice, G’s the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police issued a notice to Delhi’s Excise Commissioner, requesting that he disclose any records relevant to the award of liquor licences under the new excise policy.