Court sends Delhi deputy CM to CBI remand till March 4 in excise policy case

Manish Sisodia Arrest: The CBI told the court that the 'conspiracy was hatched in a very planned and secret manner'.

Court sends Delhi deputy CM to CBI remand till March 4 in excise policy case

A Delhi court on Monday sent Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to five-day CBI custody till March 4 in connection with alleged corruption in the now-withdrawn liquor policy. The CBI told the court that the "conspiracy was hatched in a very planned and secret manner".

Sisodia, who was produced before special judge M K Nagpal, claimed that there was no evidence against him and opposed the CBI's plea for his remand.

As per news agency ANI, senior advocate Dayan Krishnan said, "If someone is not willing to say something, that can't be a ground for arrest."

The CBI's counsel said Sisodia's custody was required for effective interrogation in the case. "Sisodia claimed that he had no role in the case but the probe showed he personally took decisions," the CBI submitted before the court, PTI reported. Sisodia's counsel argued that while the CBI said he changed his cell phones, that was not a crime.

The counsel said the policy was implemented after taking suggestions from the Delhi Lieutenant Governor. He further said that since it required consultations, there was no chance of conspiracy.

"I am the finance minister. I've to present the budget.... what changed yesterday that the finance minister was to be placed under custody? Was he not available for next days? Or was this arrest done for ulterior motive? This case is an assault on an individual as well as the institution. Remand will send a message, this is a fit case for declining remand," Sisodia's counsel told the court. CBI brought Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia to Rouse Avenue Court after conducting his medical test at its headquarters amid massive protests by AAP workers in the national capital.

AAP workers and supporters also took to the streets in Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Kolkata and several other cities to protest against Sisodia's arrest by the CBI. In the national capital, chaotic scenes were witnessed near the BJP headquarters as police detained several of the protesters.

Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that most CBI officers were against his deputy's arrest, but they had to obey their "political masters".

"I am told that most CBI officers were against Manish’s arrest. All of them have huge respect for him and there is no evidence against him. But the political pressure to arrest him was so high that they had to obey their political masters," Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.The CBI arrested Manish Sisodia on Sunday. He is the second Delhi minister to be arrested since Satyendar Jain.Manish Sisodia was arrested after nearly eight hours of questioning on various aspects of the excise policy for 2021-22. The CBI has accused Sisodia of bending rules and provided undue benefits to liquor vend licensees

"He gave evasive replies and did not cooperate in the investigation despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary. Therefore, he has been arrested," the CBI mentioned in a statement.

This was the second round of questioning of Sisodia after the agency registered a case on August 17 last year. He was quizzed on October 17 last year.In the FIR, the CBI has booked him under IPC sections 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) and 477A (falsification of accounts) and provisions of the Prevention Of Corruption Act including Section 7 (taking undue advantage to influence a public servant by corrupt or illegal means or by the exercise of personal influence), news agency PTI reported.

Along with Sisodia, the CBI had also named Arva Gopi Krishna, the then commissioner (excise); Anand Tiwari, the then deputy commissioner (excise); Pankaj Bhatnagar, assistant commissioner (excise); Vijay Nair, former CEO, Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company; Manoj Rai, ex-employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, director, Brindco Sales Pvt. Ltd; Sameer Mahendru, managing director, Indospirit Group, as accused in the FIR.

It is alleged that the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, an accusation strongly refuted by the AAP. The policy was later scrapped.