New Delhi [India] October 4 (ANI): The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh on Wednesday evening in connection with the Delhi excise policy case.
Sanjay Singh was arrested following a day-long questioning session by ED officials at his Delhi residence.
Notably, Sanjay Singh is the third prominent leader of the AAP, after Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, to be arrested by a central agency.
Sanjay Singh's party colleague and former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is also allegedly involved in the same liquor policy scam. He is currently lodged in jail in connection with the same case. The former Delhi Deputy CM and excise minister was first arrested by the CBI on February 26, 2023, for his alleged role in the scam. Subsequently, he was arrested by the ED in the same case.
Similarly, AAP leader and former Delhi minister Satyendar Jain was also arrested by the ED in a money laundering case in May last year. He is currently out on bail on medical grounds.
The federal agency on Wednesday morning raided the residence of AAP leader Sanjay Singh in connection with the now-cancelled liquor excise policy in the national capital. The development followed closely on the heels of the ED's raid on the premises belonging to two of Sanjay Singh's close aides in the same context.
The case connects with claims that Singh and his partners played a part in the Delhi government's decision to give licenses to alcohol shops and merchants in 2020, causing losses to the state exchequer and violating anti-corruption laws.
ED has previously searched a number of locations including the homes and offices of Sanjay Singh's close associate Ajit Tyagi and other contractors and businessmen who allegedly benefited from the policy. In its nearly 270-page supplementary charge sheet, the ED has called Sisodia a key conspirator in the case.
The Delhi liquor scam case or the excise policy case pertains to allegations that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge that has been strongly refuted by the AAP.
ED has so far filed five charge sheets in the case, including against Sisodia. The first charge sheet in the case was filed by the ED last year. The agency said it has so far undertaken over 200 search operations in this case after filing an FIR after taking cognisance of a CBI case which was registered on the recommendation of the Delhi lieutenant governor.
The CBI inquiry was recommended on the findings of the Delhi chief secretary's report filed in July showing prima facie violations of the GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009, and Delhi Excise Rules-2010, officials had said.
The ED and the CBI had alleged that irregularities were committed while modifying the Excise Policy, undue favours were extended to licence holders, the licence fee was waived or reduced and the L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority's approval. The beneficiaries diverted "illegal" gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection.
As per the allegations, the Excise Department had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about Rs 30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules. Even though there was no enabling provision, a waiver on tendered licence fees was allowed from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022, due to COVID-19.
This allegedly caused a loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer, which has been instituted on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena.
Similarly, AAP leader and former Delhi minister Satyendar Jain was also arrested by the ED under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) on May 30, 2022.
The ED case is based on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) complaint registered on the allegation that Satyendar Jain had acquired movable properties in the name of various persons from February 14, 2015, to May 31, 2017, which he could not satisfactorily account for.
On May 26, 2023, the Supreme Court granted interim bail to Satyendar Jain for six weeks in the money laundering case but imposed various conditions including neither to talk with the media nor to leave Delhi without permission.
On September 25, the SC extended further interim bail granted to Satyendar Jain on medical grounds till October 8. Jain has undergone surgery on July 21. The interim bail given to Jain on medical grounds is extended from time to time. (ANI)