Delhi excise policy case: After CBI, ED now arrests Manish Sisodia; CM Kejriwal claims false charges

Sisodia was placed under arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following his second round of questioning at the Tihar jail.
Delhi excise policy case: After CBI, ED now arrests Manish Sisodia; CM Kejriwal claims false charges

New Delhi | In fresh trouble for Delhi's former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday arrested the senior AAP leader on money laundering charges in connection with alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy.

Sisodia is already in Tihar jail here after he was sent to 14-day judicial custody by a CBI court on March 6 in a related case lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the excise policy for 2021-22. He was arrested by the CBI on February 26.

The arrest of the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) leader by the ED comes a day before the expected hearing of his bail plea before the CBI court on Friday.

Official sources said Sisodia was placed under arrest under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) following his second round of questioning at the Tihar jail.

The ED alleged Sisodia was "evasive" in his replies and was "not cooperating" in the probe and hence was arrested.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal alleged that his former deputy was being kept in jail on false charges and that he was arrested by the ED because he would have got bail.

"First, Manish(Sisodia) was arrested by the CBI. CBI did not find any evidence and no money was found during the raids. Tomorrow there is a bail hearing. He would have been released tomorrow. So ED arrested him today. They have only one aim -- to keep Manish inside at all costs by slapping false cases. People are watching. They will reply," Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.

The first round of Sisodia's questioning by the ED took place on March 7 after its three-member team obtained the court's permission to question him during his judicial custody period.

The ED is expected to obtain a production warrant from a special PMLA court and then produce him before it on Friday seeking his custody for interrogation.

Even if Sisodia gets bail in the CBI case on Friday, the ED can seek his custody.

If the ED gets his custody, he will be taken to the agency's headquarters in central Delhi for questioning and further recording of his statement and confrontation with other accused in the excise policy case.

Special Judge M K Nagpal, who sent Sisodia to judicial custody, had directed the CBI to file its response to the AAP leader's bail application by March 10.

In his application, Sisodia stated that he had joined the investigation as and when called for by the central probe agency.

He further stated that no fruitful purpose would be served by keeping him in custody as all the recoveries have already been made, adding that the other accused persons arrested in this case have already been granted bail.

Meanwhile, Sisodia penned an open letter on 'Politics of Education' vs 'Politics of Jail' alleging that the BJP's problem with politics of education is that it "builds nations, not leaders." "It is much easier to throw political opponents in jail than giving quality education to children. BJP's real problem with politics of education is that it builds nations, not leaders," the former Education minister of Delhi wrote.

"Politics of education is not an easy task and definitely not a recipe for political success. Today, politics of jail might be winning under the rule of the BJP, but the future belongs to politics of education.” The ED is understood to have questioned Sisodia about the alleged change and destruction of cellphones that were in his possession and the policy decisions and the timeline followed by him as the then excise minister of Delhi. These charges were made by it in its chargesheets filed before the court.

The ED, as per sources, posed a specific query as to how the excise policy draft was allegedly available with liquor traders and purported cartels even before it was officially published by the excise department of the Delhi government.

The agency is also understood to have asked him about the meetings of the GoM attended/chaired by him on the liquor policy issue and his interactions with other ministers on this panel and also Chief Minister Kejriwal.

The ED has informed the court through its charge sheet that its probe found that at least 36 accused, including Sisodia, allegedly "destroyed, used or changed" 170 phones to conceal evidence of "kickbacks" worth thousands of crores of rupees in the alleged scam.

It is alleged that the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers, who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.

The policy was later scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED booked a case against the same accused under the PMLA.

'Politics of education' will defeat BJP's 'Politics of jail': Manish Sisodia in open letter

New Delhi | Former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday penned an open letter on 'Politics of Education' vs 'Politics of Jail' while in custody alleging that BJP's problem with politics of education is that it "builds nations, not leaders." He wrote, "It is much easier to throw political opponents in jail than giving quality education to children. BJP's real problem with politics of education is that it builds nations, not leaders." "Politics of education is not an easy task and definitely not a recipe for political success. Today, politics of jail might be winning under the rule of the BJP, but the future belongs to politics of education," he wrote.

After CBI, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested the Aam Aadmi Party leader on money laundering charges in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy, official sources said.

The 51-year-old former Delhi education minister was arrested under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) following his second round of questioning at the Tihar jail, they said.

Sisodia has been in judicial custody since the CBI arrested him on February 26 in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi liquor or excise policy for 2021-22.

The first round of Sisodia's questioning by the ED took place on March 7.

Atishi new education minister, Saurabh Bharadwaj new health minister of Delhi

New Delhi | Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Saurabh Bharadwaj and Atishi were sworn in as ministers by Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena on Thursday in the presence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri also attended the oath-taking ceremony.

Atishi will handle education, PWD, power and tourism departments, while Bharadwaj will look after health, urban development, water and industries.

Following the resignations of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and minister Satyendar Jain, both currently in Tihar jail in alleged corruption and money laundering cases, respectively, two Cabinet berths had fallen vacant.

Sisodia was arrested by the CBI on February 26 in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22. He is in judicial custody till March 20.

Jain, who is also in judicial custody, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a case of alleged money laundering on May 30 last year.

"Many congratulations and best wishes to Atishi ji and Saurabh ji on assuming the new responsibilities. You both have to take forward the good work of Manish ji and Satyendra ji. People have high expectations from both of you," Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.

Bharadwaj replied: "Sir, we are your disciples. Manish ji and Jain saab are our elder brothers. The Centre conspired to put them in jail. They will come out soon and take care of their work. Thank you very much for the responsibility you have given us in this difficult time. Their work will not stop, Delhi's work will not stop." President Droupadi Murmu earlier accepted the resignations of Sisodia and Jain and appointed Bharadwaj and Atishi as ministers in the Delhi government LG Saxena had recommended the names of Atishi and Bharadwaj to President Murmu for appointment as Cabinet ministers following a recommendation from Kejriwal for their elevation to the Cabinet.

Atishi and Bharadwaj will be attending the Delhi Assembly's Budget Session commencing from March 17 as ministers after their swearing in on March 9, party sources said.

Bharadwaj has been an MLA of the AAP since 2013 and is currently the vice-chairman of the Delhi Jal Board. He was a minister during the brief first term of the Kejriwal government in 2013.

Atishi has been an MLA of the AAP since 2020 and has been associated with the party since its inception.

She was an advisor of Sisodia in his education portfolio.

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