The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has summoned Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia for questioning on Monday in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the excise policy for the national capital, officials said.
The federal probe agency has asked the Aam Aadmi Party leader to appear before it at its headquarters in New Delhi at 11 am on Monday, they added.
The AAP claimed that Sisodia would be arrested on Monday and alleged the move was initiated in view of the forthcoming assembly elections in Gujarat where it is in a direct contest with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In a tweet on Sunday, Sisodia said: 'CBI raid was conducted at my house for 14 hours, nothing came out. Searched my bank locker, nothing came out in it. They did not find anything in my village. Now they have called me to CBI Headquarters at 11 am tomorrow. I will go and give my full cooperation. Satyameva Jayate.'
The CBI has questioned a number of people, including Sameer Mahendru, the owner of Indo Spirits, Amit Arora, the director of Buddy Retail Private Limited in Gurugram, and India Ahead News managing director Mootha Gautam, in connection with the case, the officials said.
The agency has arrested Vijay Nair, an AAP worker and a former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company, and Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Boinpally, whose partner Arun Pillai has been named as an accused in the CBI (first information report) FIR, they said.
The CBI had got a FIR registered in a special court in New Delhi in August against Sisodia and 14 others under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 477A (falsification of records), and Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, which deals with taking undue advantage to influence a public servant by corrupt or illegal means or by the exercise of personal influence.
Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena had recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of the Delhi Excise Policy, which was brought out in November last year, the officials said.
Following the registration of the FIR, the agency conducted searches at the premises of Sisodia and opened his locker at a bank in Ghaziabad, they said.
The FIR flagged payments in crores allegedly made to 'close associates' of Sisodia by Mahendru, one of the liquor traders actively involved in the alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy.
The FIR also alleged that Sisodia's 'close associates' Amit Arora, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey were 'actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees' for the accused public servants.
It said Radha Industries, managed by Dinesh Arora, received Rs 1 crore from Mahendru.
Pandey, also an associate of Sisodia, had once collected cash amounting to about Rs 2-4 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Nair, the FIR alleged.
During its probe, the CBI found that a lobby of a liquor businessman based in south India was also involved in influencing the excise policy and promoting cartelisation.
The FIR, registered on the basis of a 'source information', stated that the accused public servants, including Sisodia, took decisions pertaining to the Excise Policy 2021-22 without the approval of the competent authority and with 'an intention to extend undue favours to the licensees post tender'.
'It was alleged that irregularities were committed, including in modifications in Excise Policy, extending undue favours to the licensees, waiver or reduction in licence fee, extension of L-1 licence without approval etc.,' a CBI spokesperson had said in a statement after the registration of the FIR.
According to the Delhi government's website, an L-1 licence is granted for wholesale supply of Indian liquor.
The licence is granted to a company or a society or a partnership firm or proprietorship firm that have licensed manufacturing units (distillery, brewery, winery or bottling plant), the excise department's website said.
The CBI spokesperson had said it was further alleged that illegal gains from these acts were diverted to the public servants concerned by private parties by making false entries in their books of accounts.