Monday, October 3rd, 2022 15:59:08

CBI & SISODIA

By Manoj Dubey
Updated: September 1, 2022 8:35 am

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is a premier investigation agency of India. It was formed in 1963 to investigate the cases of crime. It is headed by a Director, an IPS officer with a rank of Director General of Police. The director is selected by a high profile three member committee headed by the Prime Minister, the other two members are the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.

It is exempted from the Right to Information Act (RTI). It takes charge of the cases directed by the Central Govt., Supreme Court or High Court.        The investigation report is submitted to the CBI Court (established exclusively for CBI cases). The decision of CBI Court can be challenged in the High Court. The conviction rate of the CBI investigation is about 70%.

Manish Sisodia is the Deputy CM of the government of Delhi since 2015. He has been elected as MLA for three consecutive terms from Patparganj constituency in east Delhi. Sisodia is a member of the National Executive and founding member of the Aam Admi Party (AAP). He is holding over a dozen portfolios in the govt. including Education and Excise. He was a social activist and journalist before joining politics. After completing diploma in Journalism, he worked as Radio Jockey in FM Radio, hosted programmes for All India Radio and worked as a reporter for Zee News. In 2017, he presented Delhi Education Model at the Global Education Conference in Moscow, in front of educationists from seventy countries. He is known for Education reforms in Delhi which is evident from improved results in Grades 10 and 12. In 2018, he delivered keynote address at Harvard India Conference at the Harvard Kennedy School on the government’s Education and Healthcare reforms.

In old excise policy regime, Delhi had total 864 liquor stores out of which 475 were operated by four govt. corporations and remaining 389 were run by private individuals. For AAP govt. which came to power on anti corruption theme, the new excise policy, implemented in November 2021, could have been a tool to stamp out the liquor mafia, black money and increase revenue. The new excise policy envisaged 849 spacious and airconditioned liquor vends equitably distributed across 32 zones in the city. Each zone was meant to have 27 liquor shops all of which would belong to one retail licensee.

The new excise policy was fundamentally strong. It takes a different and progressive look at alcohol sale and consumption in Modern Delhi. The central aim was to stop black marketing, to increase revenue and to basically improve consumer experience. It allowed home delivery of liquor, shops to open until three in morning, reduced drinking age to 21 and licensees could offer unlimited discounts.

The new excise policy was not implemented as per standard norms and there was decline in the govt. revenue in spite of increase in sales. The economic offence wing of Delhi Police looked into the irregularities. Delhi’s Chief Secretary submitted the report to the Lt. Governor accusing Sisodia of providing undue benefits and liquor vends licensees in lieu of kickbacks and commission. The allegations are, waiving Rs 144 crore on tender license fee using pandemic as an excuse, undue benefits to licensees by revising the rates of foreign liquor and removing the levy of import pass fee on beer. This made foreign liquor and beer cheaper and led to the loss of revenue for state exchequer. The Lt. Governor filed complaint with CBI asking it to investigate the processes that were allegedly changed to favour private liquor barons and certain people. The new policy was withdrawn by the govt. of Delhi immediately, giving an inkling to the people that irregularities were committed. Because, if everything was as per norms, they should not have withdrawn it.

In connection with the excise policy scam, the CBI conducted raids at the residence and other locations associated with Sisodia on 19th August. The investigating agency named 15 suspects including Sisodia, in FIR filed in the case. The FIR mentions, Sisodia and other accused public servants took decisions on the excise policy without following appropriate procedures (deliberate and gross procedural lapses) and to provide “undue benefits to liquor licensees”.

Now, the investigating agencies must do their job and the accused must cooperate but at the same time they should not be used by the govt. to target the opposition parties. People of the country know that hardly anyone from ruling party is investigated or raided or arrested. Also the timing of the action and selectiveness is under question. In 2013,the Supreme Court criticized the CBI for being the “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”. Sisodia and other accused must cooperate with the investigation and let people know the facts.

 



By Manoj Dubey
(The writer is former Principal, Delhi Public Schools)

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