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The Delhi Liquor scam has no substance

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) alleged that the policy was intentionally designed with loopholes to favour AAP leaders and promote cartel formations. It accused AAP leaders of receiving kickbacks from liquor businesses in exchange for preferential treatment, such as discounts, licence fee waivers, and relief during the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.

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delhi liquor scam, liquor scam, delhi, arvind kejriwal, manish sisodia, sisodia, kavitha, sanjay singh, satyendra jain

One after another, many Aam Aadmi Party leaders got arrested due to their alleged involvement in the Delhi Liquor Scam. This is purely a political scandal relating to the Delhi government that made its way through the introduction of Delhi’s excise policy from 2021 to 2022. This policy brought in private firms and enterprise companies into the retail liquor sector. The accusations involve favouring the owners and shareholders of private sectors, waivers and reductions of licence fees, and the creation of numerous licences for all the new incoming enterprises in exchange for bribery. The excise policy 2021–22, created by the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), projected it as a reform in the excise and retail liquor sectors, thereby boosting revenue by Rs 9,500 crores. This policy mainly focused on moving out of the retail sector and making way for large private sectors and firms. The policy was structured by a group of ministers from the cabinet, and the draft was approved and accepted by the government in March 2021.

When the final draft was brought in front of Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena for approval, he approved the bill with the condition that new liquor vendors in non-confirmed areas could only be opened with the permission of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. In November 2021, a government official from Delhi stated that “for the first time ever, all state-owned liquor shops were going to be shut down and transferred completely to private business players.”. Later, the new policy was withdrawn and the government backed the old policy to be continued.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) alleged that the policy was intentionally designed with loopholes to favour AAP leaders and promote cartel formations. It accused AAP leaders of receiving kickbacks from liquor businesses in exchange for preferential treatment, such as discounts, licence fee waivers, and relief during the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.

The CBI conducted raids targeting then-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and three others. The CBI named Sisodia and 14 other accused in its FIR, including AAP communications in-charge Vijay Nair, who was arrested in September 2022. The Enforcement Directorate believes the now-scrapped liquor policy provided an impossibly high profit margin of 185 percent for retailers and 12 percent for wholesalers. Of the latter, six percent—over Rs 600 crore—were bribes and the money was allegedly used to fund the AAP’s poll campaigns. One by one, all the top leaders, including the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, were sent to jail in this scam. Additionally, they were accused of influencing elections held in Punjab and Goa in early 2022. The BJP took advantage of the situation and clutched all leaders with the help of ED.

After six months of his arrest, the Supreme Court granted bail to Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh and posed tough questions to the Enforcement Directorate, which had arrested Singh, including asking why he had been jailed for over six months without a trial or recovery of alleged bribes of Rs 2 crore. The court told the agency, which claims the party received Rs 600 crore in bribes, nothing has been recovered… there is no trace (of money allegedly received by the AAP as bribes for allotting liquor licences to the ‘South Group’)”. This is a big blow to ED and BJP. They tried their level best to bend these leaders but could not sustain their ground.

The court then directed Additional Solicitor General SV Raju to confer with the ED and decide if custody of Singh is warranted at this stage. Singh was released after the Enforcement Directorate said it did not want custody. The court earlier observed that Dinesh Arora, an accused who turned approver, or government witness, did not implicate Singh in his initial statements. Manish Singh was arrested on the basis of statements given by Arora, who got bail in August. Sanjay Singh has been in Delhi’s Tihar Jail since his arrest in October in the alleged liquor policy scam, which has roiled the opposition party and seen the arrests of Mr. Sisodia and his former boss, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, weeks before the election. The ED asserted that Kejriwal himself engaged with key accused individuals, urging them to collaborate with others involved in the case. Despite receiving nine summonses between October 2023 and March 2024, Kejriwal was apprehended after the Delhi High Court rejected his plea for protection from arrest.

Bail for Sanjay Singh is one positive sign that the scam has no grounds. This is purely a politically motivated plot to finish the Aam Aadmi Party, as the BJP in the centre has finished many local and national parties. In the current situation, the Aam Aadmi party is very vocal in opposition to BJP and the BJP is trying to silence all those political parties that are speaking against them. There is a strong possibility that Sisodia and Kejriwal may also come out soon. If all of them get bail, undoubtedly, we can say this scam was used to malign the Aam Aadmi Party.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Tamanhttps://authorvaidehi.com
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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