Delhi LG recommends CBI probe into Kejriwal govt's excise policy
In a fresh trouble for the Kejriwal government, Delhi LG VK Saxena has recommended a CBI probe into its Excise Policy, 2021-22, over alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses, officials said on Friday.
The CBI inquiry was recommended on Delhi Chief Secretary's report filed earlier this month, showing prima facie violations of GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009 and Delhi Excise Rules-2010, they said.
A copy of the report was also sent to the Chief Minister, they said.
Apart from this there were also "deliberate and gross procedural lapses" to provide post tender "undue benefits to liquor licensees", said the officials.
AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said that central agencies like the CBI and ED will investigate against every minister of Delhi government to keep it at bay as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "scared" of party convener and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal since Aam Aadmi Party's stupendous victory in Punjab.
The LG has found "substantive indications" of financial quid pro quo at the "top political level" wherein the excise minister took and got executed major decisions in violation of the statutory provisions and notified the Excise Policy that had huge financial implications , sources said.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia heads the Excise department of Delhi government.
He also extended undue financial favours to the liquor licensees much after the tenders had been awarded and thus caused huge losses to the exchequer, sources said
The Excise department gave a waiver of of Rs 144.36 crores to the licensees on the tendered license fee under the excuse of COVID-19 pandemic. It also refunded earnest money of Rs 30 crores to the lowest bidder of the licence of Airport Zone, when it failed to obtain NOC' from the airport authorities, claimed sources.
It was in gross violation of Rule 48(11)(b) of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, which clearly stipulates that the successful bidder must complete all formalities for grant of license failing which all deposits made by him shall stand forfeited to the government, said the note, they said.
Further, the excise department in its November 8, 2021 order revised the formula of calculation of rates of foreign liquor and removed the levy of import pass fee of Rs 50 per case on beer "without approval of the competent authority" making it cheaper for retailers causing loss of revenue to the state exchequer, they claimed further.
The "lapses" in awarding license for liquor vends were also reported by the Chief Secretary and the excise department also relaxed provisions of the tender document to provide undue financial favours to the retailers, instead of acting against them for default in payment of license fee, interest and penalty for non-genuine reasons, sources said.
Some of the decisions taken by Sisodia were also redflagged by the then LG on being taken without the approval of Delhi Cabinet, they added.
The illegal decisions taken in the past were attempted to be legalized by getting the stamp of a post facto Cabinet decision as recently as on July 14, which in itself was in violation of laid down rules and procedures, they claimed.
The new Excise policy 2021-22 was implemented from November 17 last year under which retail licences were given to private bidders for 849 vends across the city divided into 32 zones.
Many liquor stores failed to open for being located in non-confirming areas of the city. Several such vends were sealed by the municipal corporations, they said.
The BJP and Congress had vociferously opposed the policy and lodged complaint with the LG as well as central agencies for a probe into it.