Regulatory policy

Explainer: Delhi’s new excise policy and why LG seeks CBI investigation

On Friday, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena recommended a CBI investigation into the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 for alleged rule violations and procedural lapses. The LG found “substantial evidence” of “financial quid pro quo” at the “highest political level” where the Minister of Excise “made and enforced important decisions in breach of statutory provisions” and notified the excise policy which had “enormous consequences”.

Here is an explanation of Delhi’s excise policy:

On November 17, 2020, the Delhi government exited the liquor business, closing its 600 outlets to pave the way for posh, private boutiques.

The Delhi government-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) then reintroduced a new alcohol regime to “clean up malpractices” and improve the experience of individuals when buying alcohol. He also introduced a new policy aimed at increasing government revenue.

The New Delhi Excise Policy (2021-22), which came into force in November, has the following standards:

1. All liquor sales will be private. The city government will not organize any sales.

2. Retail licenses issued to private bidders for 849 sales.

3. The 849 vends have been divided into 32 zones.

4. The policy permitted the opening of shops in markets, malls, shopping roads/areas, local shopping complexes and other similar places, provided that the standard rules and regulations for the opening of a new store are complied with, in particular Delhi Excise Rule 51. Rules.

However, yesterday strained ties between Delhi LG and the AAP government crumbled after the former recommended a CBI inquiry into Delhi’s 2021-22 excise policy. Lieutenant Governor Saxena’s decision follows a report submitted by Delhi’s Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar on the matter. Report accuses Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia of giving undue benefits to liquor sales license holders instead of ‘commission’ and money used in recent Punjab elections .

Officials from the Lieutenant Governor’s office said that “the Excise Department, under direct orders from Sisodia, has decided to authorize a waiver of 144.36 crore singularly to the liquor cartel, on the license fee tendered, under the pretext of the Covid pandemic”.

LG Saxena’s decision drew strong reactions from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Dy CM Sisodia. “I have known Sisodia for 22 years and I have never seen anyone as honest or as dishonorable as him,” Kejriwal said.

“Sisodia has made the lives and careers of thousands of children studying in Delhi…Today a judge’s son and a rickshaw puller’s son sit together and study at the same table… I have repeatedly, assembly sessions, press conferences, told everyone that the Center wants to arrest Sisodia. The Center has adopted a new strategy to frame a person. First , he selects a person, tries to find something against them, and when he fails, he builds a false case and allegations to send the minister to prison,” he said.

Kejriwal also accused the Center of pursuing the AAP since winning the Punjab Assembly elections.

But LG office officials claimed that “the CBI investigation will expose the infamous game being played at the expense of the people of Delhi and determine the amount of bribes received by the government and AAP leaders.” , as well as the use of this money to influence the Punjab elections”.

They said there was a quid pro quo at the highest political level, in which the minister responsible for the excise department, Manish Sisodia, took and enforced major decisions/actions in violation of statutory provisions and the policy of excise notified who had enormous financial difficulties. consequences.

LG’s office said Sisodia also gave “undue financial favors” to liquor licensees long after the tenders were awarded, causing huge losses to the state treasury. Sisodia’s role is under the scanner for alleged willful and gross procedural breaches that provided unfair advantages to the bidding process for liquor licensees for the 2021-22 year, officials said from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

On the other hand, AAP Chief Spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj yesterday alleged that the CBI investigation was recommended by the LG at the behest of the BJP-run center to implicate Sisodia in a false affair and keep the party led by Kejriwal at bay during the next Assembly. polls.

He also alleged that the Center was trying ‘somehow’ to implicate all Delhi government ministers in bogus business as Prime Minister Narendra Modi feared the growing popularity of the AAP and Kejriwal.

Bhardwaj claimed that nothing will come of it and eventually people will figure it all out and wonder why Modi is after the AAP leaders.

“It is very sad for this country that the LG has recommended a CBI investigation to implicate Manish Sisodia, the country’s most popular education minister, in a bogus case,” the AAP chief said.

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