In a major development, a Delhi court on February 27 remanded Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody till March 4 in a case related to the alleged Delhi Excise Policy scam. Sisodia was arrested by the CBI after an interrogation that lasted nearly eight hours.
The Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Pankaj Gupta for CBI had sought five days of custody of Sisodia. Gupta argued that the investigation revealed that Sisodia verbally directed the Secretary to create a new cabinet note to alter the policy. He further said that the agency was asking for his phone which he has been using since January 2020.
Appearing for Sisodia, Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan argued that the CBI's grounds for remand were not tenable in law and that the arguments about profit margin were approved by Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, the complainant.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI registered cases against the alleged scam after Delhi Lieutenant Governor (LG) VK Saxena recommended a CBI probe based on a report by the Delhi Chief Secretary. The report claimed that the Deputy Chief Minister violated statutory provisions and notified a policy that had significant financial implications.
Although Sisodia was not named in the CBI's chargesheet, the probe remained open against him and some others. The AAP has denied the allegations and maintained that Sisodia is innocent.
This latest development has caused a stir in the political circles of Delhi, with opposition parties demanding an explanation from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government. The timing of Sisodia's arrest has also been questioned, as he is currently the Finance Minister of Delhi and has to present the budget.
Senior Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, who also represented Sisodia, submitted that the case was an assault not only on Sisodia but also on the institution. Aggarwal further contended that granting remand in this case would send a wrong message.
This case is expected to have significant political implications, and the Delhi government has already expressed its strong disagreement with the arrest. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also called for a fair investigation and urged the authorities to respect the rule of law.
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