Delhi LG orders CBI probe into AAP govt’s excise policy

Delhi LG orders CBI probe into AAP govt’s excise policy

New Delhi: The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi VK Saxena on Friday recommended a probe into the Kejriwal government’s Excise Policy 2021-22 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Sources in the CBI said that there were alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress had vociferously opposed the policy and lodged a complaint with the LG as well as central agencies for a probe into it. Saxena’s action has put the Kejriwal government, which is already in wrangle with the Centre over a ban on the chief minister's visit to Singapore, in fresh trouble. 

The CBI inquiry was recommended on Delhi Chief Secretary’s report filed earlier this month, showing prima facie violations of GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009 and Delhi Excise Rules-2010, they said.

A copy of the report was also sent to the Chief Minister, they said.

Apart from this there were also ‘deliberate and gross procedural lapses’ to provide post tender ‘undue benefits to liquor licensees’, said the officials.

Aam Aadmi Party chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said that central agencies like the CBI and Enforcement Directorate would investigate against every minister of Delhi government to keep it at bay as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ‘scared’ of party convener and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal since AAP’s stupendous victory in Punjab.

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The LG has found ‘substantive indications’ of ‘financial quid pro quo’ at the ‘top political level’ wherein the excise minister ‘took and got executed major decisions in violation of the statutory provisions’ and notified the excise policy that had ‘huge financial implications’, sources said.

Further, the excise department in its November 8, 2021 order revised the formula of calculation of rates of foreign liquor and removed the levy of import pass fee of Rs 50 a case on beer 'without approval of the competent authority' making it cheaper for retailers causing loss of revenue to the state exchequer, they claimed further.

The ‘lapses’ in awarding license for liquor vends were also reported by the Chief Secretary and the excise department also relaxed provisions of the tender document to provide undue financial favours to the retailers, instead of acting against them for default in payment of license fee, interest and penalty for non-genuine reasons, sources said.

Some of the decisions taken by Sisodia were also red-flagged by the then LG on being taken without the approval of Delhi cabinet, they added. Many liquor stores failed to open for being located in non-confirming areas of the city. Several such vends were sealed by the municipal corporations, they said.

As the dates for the Gujarat assembly elections will be nearing, there will be more troubles for Kejriwal, political observers say.