Even as the war of words between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) peaks with claims and counterclaims being made by the minute, the investigating agency is determined get an edge in this tussle.
Following Delhi Deputy Chief minister Manish Sisodia’s claims that CBI officials threatened him to quit the party in order to avoid the probe, sources in the agency said most of the questioning is carried out in room where the cameras are already in place and even the questioning is videographed.
Sisodia was questioned on Monday for over eight hours by the CBI in connection with the now scrapped Excise Policy 2021-22 case, over the alleged irregularities.
After questioning by the agency, Sisodia alleged that he was asked by the CBI officers to leave the party, or else continue to face investigation. He also claimed that he was called for questioning to make “operation lotus” successful.
CBI strongly refuted the claims of the AAP leader and said that agency had never asked him to quit the party.
The central probe agency also said that Sisodia’s questioning was carried out in a professional and legal manner, strictly as per the allegations against him.
The allegations levelled by Sisodia have put a question mark on the process of CBI.
However, sources in CBI said that the questioning of most of the accused is carried out in rooms where the CCTV cameras are installed.
The source said, this is done to keep a close track on the behaviour of the accused and how he reacts when the officers are not around him.
The source also said that the CBI also video records the statement of the accused in sensitive cases.
However, CBI officials remained tight lipped about whether Sisodia was questioned in a room where CCTV was present or if his statement was video recorded.
The source also pointed out that in past the agency had questioned several high profile leaders like Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram and they did not resort to such allegations against the country’s premier investigative agency.
He also said that the CBI had in past dealt with several sensitive cases involving ministers, top businessmen, and politicians, but such allegations were never made out.
The source further said that the agency’s strong rebuttal to the allegations levelled by Sisodia was a clear indication that the CBI has not taken it lightly and soon they might take serious action in the case.
The CBI had registered a case on August 17 this year over the alleged irregularities in the excise policy case. Sisodia, who is AAP’s second-in-command, has been named as accused number one in this case.
The CBI also raided the premises of Sisodia on August 19, besides 30 other locations across the country in connection with the case.
The CBI had filed the FIR based on a complaint received from Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, who flagged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy.
Besides Sisodia, the CBI has named 14 others, including three public servants – then excise commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna; then deputy excise commissioner Anand Tiwari and assistant commissioner (excise) Pankaj Bhatnagar.
Some private persons, including AAP communication in-charge and former CEO of Mumbai-based Only Much Louder Vijay Nair; Sameer Mahendru, MD of Indospirits; Manoj Rai, a former employee of Lucknow-based Pernod Ricard; Amit Arora, director of Gurgaon-based Buddy Retail Private Limited; Dinesh Arora, Delhi-based Mahadev Liquors; Sunny Marwah, authorised signatory of Mahadev Liquors; Arun Ramchandra Pillai of Karnataka’s Bangalore and Arjun Pandey of Gurgaon, have also been named in the CBI FIR.
The CBI has made two arrests in the case, including Nair and Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Bonipally on September 28.
Even, the Enforcement Directorate has also launched a money laundering probe and arrested Mahendru and also carried out searches at over 170 locations in last one and half month.