A day after Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court granted bail to two of the accused in the Delhi excise policy case, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday called the liquor scam bogus and said it was a means to malign the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Taking to Twitter, Kejriwal said, “Now even Court has said that there is no material evidence of any kickback or money laundering. We have been saying right from beginning that entire liquor scam is bogus and meant only to malign AAP.”
Now even Court has said that there is no material evidence of any kickback or money laundering.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) May 7, 2023
We have been saying right from beginning that entire liquor scam is bogus and meant only to malign AAP https://t.co/JO1PL03thv
At a press conference, Delhi Education Minister Atishi on Sunday said, “BJP ministers and leaders have constantly held press conferences and claimed that liquor scam happened in Delhi. The allegations these ministers levied then occurred in CBI and ED chargesheets. These two organisations have been investigating the case for over six months. They have employed over 500 officers for investigating the case…Yesterday, Rouse Avenue Court, in its judgment, released two people who had been arrested in the case on bail. The court also released an 85-page order.”
The Rouse Avenue court released Rajesh Joshi and Gautam Malhotra on bail on Saturday. Rajesh Joshi is the owner of Chariot Media Production Private Limited and Gautam Malhotra is the son of former Akali legislator in Punjab Deep Malhotra. Both Joshi and Malhotra had been arrested in February.
ED arrested Gautam Malhotra on February 7 and alleged that he was a part of the cartel formed by liquor manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. Joshi was arrested on February 8, and was alleged to have helped another accused in laundering money by creating fake invoices without providing any service.
Speaking about the order she said that she wanted the BJP and the media channels who have been running news about the scam to read the order. She says the order states that “ED and CBI do not have any documents to prove a scam of even one rupee. The judge only says one thing again and again in the order, that no evidence has been provided by ED in the case.”
She further added, “There is no specific evidence showing any such cash evidence of bribe or repayment of kickbacks. The only evidence presented has been some vague statements by witnesses, and on the basis of these statements, it cannot be inferred that cash payments were given as bribes.”
Atishi alleged that the chargesheets were not drafted in ED or CBI offices but rather in BJP offices. She said that people have been threatened to become witnesses in the case and three major witnesses Sameer Mahendru, Arun Pillai, Chandan Reddy, took their statements back.
She added, “On PMO’s orders AAP leader Sanjay Singh’s name had been added in ED’s chargesheet and when they receive a legal notice, they apologise. Hence, one thing is clear, whatever is being said about the liquor scam is absolutely a lie.”
The Delhi government’s 2021-22 excise policy aimed to revitalise the city’s flagging liquor business. It aimed to replace a sales-volume-based regime with a license fee for traders, and promised swankier stores, free of the infamous metal grilles, ultimately giving customers a better buying experience. The policy also introduced discounts and offers on the purchase of liquor, a first for Delhi.
The plan, however, came to an abrupt end, with Delhi’s lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommending a probe into alleged irregularities in the regime. This ultimately resulted in the policy being scrapped prematurely and being replaced by the 2020-21 regime, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleging that Saxena’s predecessor sabotaged the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.
AAP leader and former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was arrested on February 26 by the CBI and is currently under investigation by the CBI and ED. Former AAP Minister Satyendar Jain was also arrested by the ED in May 2022 in a money laundering case.