Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia has been sent to the Enforcement Directorate’s custody for seven days in the Delhi liquor policy case. The central agency had sought at least 10 days to question the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister over alleged money laundering in framing the liquor policy, which was later scrapped.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested him yesterday. Before that, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested him over alleged corruption in framing Delhi’s liquor policy. His bail request in the CBI case was to be heard today in a special court, but it has been moved to March 21.
Explaining why it needs Mr Sisodia’s custody, the ED today told the special court it wants to follow where the money trail in the Delhi liquor policy case leads. The ED said the proceeds of the crime is worth at least Rs 292 crore.
“We have summoned officers. We want to confront them with Sisodia in custody,” the ED’s lawyer said.
Mr Sisodia’s lawyer slammed the ED for considering arrest as a right without going through the due process of law. “It has become a fashion these days that the agencies take arrests as a right. It’s time for the courts to come down heavily on this sense of entitlement,” Mr Sisodia’s lawyer Dayan Krishna said in the special court today.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh today told reporters that the BJP-led centre ignores serious allegations against leaders of their party and those who join them.
“The BJP has co-opted and even rewarded some of them like Himanta Biswa Sarma, Suvendu Adhikari, Mukul Roy, Narayan Rane, BS Yediyurappa and Shivraj Chouhan,” Mr Singh alleged. Eight opposition parties last week wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging misuse of central investigation agencies to go after them.
In the court hearing today, Mr Sisodia’s lawyer pointed out that the Delhi liquor policy file also went to the Lieutenant Governor, who, too, had cleared it. “We hope the ED questions the Lieutenant Governor,” he said.
A key focus of the investigation is an alleged network of middlemen, businessmen and politicians which the central agencies have called the “South Group”. “The (Delhi liquor) policy was tweaked to help companies of the south group. Mr Sisodia diluted the policy without any consultation,” the ED said.
One of the “South Group” people under the radar is K Kavitha, leader of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, a key opposition leader in the centre. She has agreed to appear for questioning on March 11.
The ED has alleged Ms Kavitha benefited from kickbacks in the Delhi liquor policy. The BRS leader has denied the allegations and accused the centre of misusing investigation agencies for political goals.
Mr Sisodia and the others face allegations of allowing liquor cartelisation and favouring certain dealers. The AAP has denied taking bribe from anyone, whether traders or politicians.
The BJP has said the AAP would not have withdrawn the liquor policy if it was confident of not having done anything wrong.