Distributive policy

CBI questions India Ahead MD in excise policy case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday questioned the Managing Director of India Ahead News and Andhra Prabha Mootha Gautam newspaper in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy case.

Although not named as an accused in the FIR, another channel employee, Arjun Pandey, is named in the FIR as one of the alleged ‘close associates’ of Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia .

Officials said Gautam was summoned to CBI headquarters in the morning and questioned about various aspects of the case, including certain transactions. The agency also interviewed Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Private Limited at Gurugram, listed in the FIR as one of three close associates of Sisodia. He was grilled earlier as part of the case as well, they said. Two days ago, the CBI arrested Hyderabad-based businessman Abhishek Boinpally in connection with the case.

Boinpally, who allegedly lobbied for some South Indian-based alcohol businessmen, was summoned for questioning on Sunday and when the agency found him evading key questions, he took him into custody.

Boinpally is also not named as a defendant in the CBI FIR, but his close associate and partner, Arun Ramchandra Pillai, is. The two founded Robin Distribution LLP in July this year, according to the Registrar of Companies (RoC) database.

According to the FIR, Sisodia’s “close associates” – Amit Arora, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey – were “actively involved in the management and diversion of the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees” to the accused officials.

The FIR claims, based on “source information”, that Sisodia and the accused officials made decisions relating to Excise Policy 2021-22 without proper authority approval with the “intent to granting undue favors to licensees after the bidding”.

“It has been alleged that irregularities have been committed, including changes in excise policy, granting undue favors to licensees, waiver/reduction of license fees, extension of license L -1 without approval, etc.”, the CBI spokesperson had said.

The CBI alleged that Radha Industries run by Dinesh Arora received Rs 1 crore from Sameer Mahendru of Indospirits.

“The source further disclosed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Sameer Mahendru to then pass it on to the accused officials through Vijay Nair.

A person named Arjun Pandey has already collected a huge sum of money of around Rs 2-4 crore from Sameer Mahendru on behalf of Vijay Nair,” the FIR alleged.

The Excise Policy 2021-22, implemented on November 17, 2021, was withdrawn by the Delhi government due to allegations of irregularities in its implementation. Of 849 private distributors that issued licenses under the policy, about 250 were operating and closed by September.