A close aide of Delhi deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia will turn an approver in excise policy case, the Central Bureau of Investigation informed a special court on Monday, a development which may be seen as a setback for the Aam Aadmi Party leader ahead of Gujarat elections.
Special judge MK Nagpal posted the matter to November 14 for arguments on the petition moved by the CBI and Dinesh Arora, close aide of Sisodia, and decide whether to grant him pardon and allow him to turn an approver in the case.
While a statement of Arora has already been recorded under section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code (confessional statement before a magistrate), his disclosure statement is also likely to be recorded before the court on November 14.
During the hearing, Arora told the court that he was ready to make "true disclosure voluntarily" about the case.
According to the CBI FIR, Arora has been accused by the CBI of receiving a bribe of Rs 1 crore from a liquor manufacturer on behalf of Sisodia.
On a query from the court, Arora made it that "there is no pressure or threats by the CBI or anyone else". His counsel also moved an application for in-camera proceedings, saying it is a sensitive matter and the media should be kept out at this early stage, a move which was also not opposed by the CBI.
The court had earlier granted anticipatory bail to Arora after the probe agency did not oppose the bail plea.
The CBI, in its reply to the anticipatory bail plea, had stated that Arora joined the investigation and disclosed certain facts which were vital for the probe and hence, "the CBI has no objection if the anticipatory bail is granted to the applicant by this court".
The CBI, after registering a case in August this year against 15 people, had carried out searches at various places including that of Arora. The accused was questioned eight times before he decided to turn an "approver" in the case.
Besides Sisodia, who holds excise portfolio, the CBI has named the then excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna, the then deputy excise commissioner Anand Kumar Tiwari, assistant excise commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar, nine businessmen and two companies, as accused in the case.
The agency has alleged that Sisodia and other accused public servants recommended and took decisions pertaining to the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority with "an intention to extend undue favours to the licensees post tender".
The agency alleged Amit Arora, Director of Buddy Retail Pvt Limited in Gurgaon, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey are "close associates" of Sisodia and were "actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees" for the accused public servants.
The CBI has alleged that Radha Industries managed by Dinesh Arora received Rs 1 crore from Sameer Mahendru of Indospirits.