In a strong rebuttal to the claims made by Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, the CBI said that the agency had never threatened the AAP leader to quit the party.
In a strong rebuttal to the claims made by Delhi Deputy Chief minister Manish Sisodia, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday said that the agency had never threatened the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader 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 CBI’s remarks came after Sisodia claimed that he was threatened to leave the party during his eight-hour-long questioning in the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 case.
The AAP leader said that he was offered by the CBI officers to leave the party, otherwise, the case would go on. He also claimed that he was called for questioning to make “operation lotus” successful.
In a statement, CBI spokesperson RC Joshi said, “Sisodia was today examined by the CBI in connection with the ongoing investigation in the Delhi Excise Policy case.”
Joshi said that Sisodia was examined strictly on the “allegations in the FIR” and the “evidence collected” so far during the investigation.
“His statement will be verified in due course and further action will be taken as per the requirements of the investigation,” he said.
Citing the remarks of Sisodia, Joshi said, “Some sections of the media have aired a video in which, after leaving the CBI office, Sisodia has stated on camera that during his questioning in the CBI, he was threatened to leave his political party and similar such insinuations.”
“CBI strongly refutes these allegations and reiterates that the examination of Sisodia was carried out in a professional and legal manner strictly as per the allegations against him in the FIR,” he said, adding that the investigation of the case will continue as per law.
The CBI 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 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.
The AAP government had announced the scrapping of the policy after a series of protests by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress.
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.
The ED has also launched a money laundering probe and arrested Mahendru on September 28. The CBI carried out searches at over 31 locations on August 19, including the premises of Sisodia. The ED has carried out searches at over 170 locations in the last one and a half months in connection with the case.
As per the FIR, Sisodia, Krishna, Tiwari and Bhatnagar were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for the year 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority to extend undue favours to the licensee post-tender.
After arresting Bonipally, the CBI in court said that ₹3.85 crores were received in Bonipally’s account from the bank account of Indospirit.
The CBI had informed the court that Bonipally claimed that this was a loan taken from Indospirit, but he had not been able to produce any documents to that effect.
“Money came to Bonipally’s account after being routed through 2-3 accounts,” the CBI had informed the court. “He (Bonipally) invested this money in different companies and has shares in these companies. The CBI alleged that he participated in various meetings at different places about the excise policy.
The CBI has also questioned several people in connection with the case in the last two months.