Delhi excise policy case: CBI arrests Manish Sisodia after 8 hours of questioning

Agency nets biggest fish in the now scrapped policy scam; Leaders from BJP and AAP trade barbs on the issue

NEW DELHI | Updated: 26 February, 2023 10:15 pm IST

Perhaps the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had an inkling of what was to come. Perhaps the main protagonist, Manish Sisodia, had an inkling of what was to come on Sunday.

The strong, visible presence of men in khaki showed even the Delhi police had an inkling of what was coming.

After eight hours of questioning, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) netted the biggest name in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy case as it announced the arrest of Sisodia, the Delhi Deputy Chief minister.

“The Central Bureau of Investigation has today arrested the Deputy CM of GNCTD (The Government Of National Capital Territory Of Delhi) in an ongoing investigation of a case related to alleged irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy of GNCTD,” the agency said.

“The instant case was registered against Deputy Chief Minister & In charge Excise Minister, GNCTD of Delhi and 14 others for an investigation into the matter of alleged irregularities in framing & implementation of Excise Policy for the year 2021-22 and extending post tender benefits to private persons,” CBI said.

“The Deputy CM was issued a notice for attending the investigation on February 19. However, he sought a week’s time, citing his preoccupation. Accepting his request, he was issued a notice for attending the investigation today (February 26) and answering various questions evaded by him during his examination on October 17, 2022, and further questions relating to his incriminating role based on evidence collected during the investigation of the case,” the agency added.

“However, he gave evasive replies and did not cooperate with the investigation despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary. Therefore, he has been arrested,” the agency confirmed.

Sources told The New Indian that Sisodia was arrested under IPC 120B (criminal conspiracy), 477A (Falsification of accounts) and PC Act (Prevention of Corruption Act).

Sisodia will spend the night at CBI HQ. His medical test will be conducted, which is mandatory after arrest. He will be produced before the designated court on Monday. CBI will seek his custodial remand, sources say.

The arrest of Sisodia, one of the tallest leaders of the AAP, has led to a political slugfest between the party and its main rival in Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

While AAP blamed the BJP for Sisodia’s arrest, BJP leaders, while expressing satisfaction, said that the key mastermind of corruption will be nabbed soon.

Reacting to Sisodia’s arrest, AAP targeted the BJP and said that they got him arrested by the CBI “in a false case”. The party termed the arrest “a conspiracy to stop Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s revolution”.

“Manish Sisodia is the future Education Minister of India, and the BJP is arresting him in fear of his rise,” the party said.

Meanwhile, AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said that the government’s action against Sisodia will invite the wrath of the Gods. “He has been framed in a fraudulent case. The government has committed a great sin by arresting someone dedicated to building the future of Delhi’s school-going children,” Singh said.

Reacting to Sisodia’s arrest, BJP Lok Sabha MP Manoj Tiwari said that their action was responsible for increased alcohol addiction in the national capital.

“The AAP government sent the young people down the road of alcohol addiction and looted the state treasury. His arrest will bring joy to the mothers and sisters,” Tiwari said.

Firebrand BJP leader Kapil Mishra trained his guns on Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. He said, “AAP leaders, Satyendra Jain, Manish Sisodia and Arvind Kejriwal are the trinity of corruption. Previously, Jain was arrested, followed by Sisodia. The next turn for going jail belongs to Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.”

Earlier in the morning, AAP supporters filled up the streets in central and south Delhi. Sisodia played to the gallery as he invoked Mahatma Gandhi and Shaheed Bhagat Singh while playing the emotional card.

One of the tallest leaders in the party, Sisodia stoked the fire as he compared himself to the great freedom fighter, ‘Shaheed’ Bhagat Singh, and said he was going to be arrested by the CBI.

“I don’t care if I have to stay in jail for a few months. I am a follower of Bhagat Singh. He laid down his life for the country. Going to jail for a false charge is a small thing,” he tweeted, comparing himself to the freedom fighter who laid down his life for the country.

Before leaving his house, Sisodia also met with his mother and took her blessings.

Sisodia also visited Rajghat and offered prayers at Mahatma Gandhi’s Samadhi. Making an emotional appeal to supporters outside Rajghat, Sisodia asked them to take care of his wife, who is unwell.

“My wife has always been there for me. Before joining AAP, I was also a journalist. Used to anchor the news. Everything was going fine. My wife supported me throughout my journey,” he said.

“Today she needs support. She is unwell and alone in the house. She needs your support. You need to take care of her,” Sisodia made an emotional appeal.

Sisodia was named as accused number one in the case. Along with him, his close aide Vijay Nair, who is also the party’s communication in-charge, and 13 private people and entities across Lucknow, Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Karnataka, which include liquor firms Brindco and Indospirit are also named in the case.

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