Did Sisodia destroy 3 phones? CBI thinks so; tells court

New Delhi | Updated: 28 February, 2023 3:13 pm IST
Representative image
Representative image

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s phone which he has been using since January 2020 may contain incriminating details related to the Delhi excise duty policy scam, CBI counsel told the Court on Monday. Sisodia, who has been named accused Number 1 in Delhi excise policy case and has been sent to CBI custody till March 4, has been accused of frequently changing phones and sim cards to tamper with evidence of the case.

Sources say, a former bureaucrat who worked in the Excise Department has informed the CBI that instructions to alter the draft excise policy came through WhatsApp from mobile numbers believed to be owned by Manish Sisodia. Sisodia reportedly used 18 mobile handsets and four SIM cards between August and September 2022. On the same day that the FIR was registered against Sisodia on August 19, 2022, he allegedly changed three mobile phones for one SIM card, and used one mobile phone number across three handsets on August 20. The handsets were also changed for some of the mobile numbers. For instance, one number was allegedly used on seven handsets in less than two months (September and October 2022). CBI officials have stated that they are puzzled by the fact that almost all the handsets are either missing or destroyed, and that Sisodia has been repeatedly questioned about them but has not given a satisfactory answer.

When asked about the destroyed phones during the hearing which was headed by MK Nagpal, CBI judge, his counsel, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan said, “He is a minister of finance and education. There are many things on the phone. It can’t be given at any shop for repair.”

CBI wanted to secure all phones Sisodia had used since January 2020 but Sisodia destroyed three of his four phones and submitted only one, CBI said.

Krishnan said, “They say Sisodia used four phones, three of which were destroyed. What am I supposed to do? Keep those phones in anticipation that the agency will come and arrest me?”

Sisodia has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with alleged corruption while implementing the state’s excise policy for 2021-22. He faces corruption allegations in bringing a new liquor sale policy in the national capital. The CBI alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy meant to grant licenses to liquor traders favored certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, an allegation strongly rejected by the AAP.

On Monday, Sisodia was taken into 5-day CBI custody for “not cooperating” in the investigation.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s plea seeking stay on his arrest in connection with Liquor policy scam.

A bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud agreed to hear the plea at 3:50 pm today.

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