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Arvind Kejriwal Under CBI’s Watchful Eye?

Here is what you need to know about the liquor policy case:

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia was arrested on February 26th on corruption charges related to the now- withdrawn Liquor policy.

What this liquor policy entails:

According to the liquor policy first proposed in 2021, the Delhi government aimed to revolutionize the archaic excise policy and optimize revenue in the liquor sector. Here are some of the policy’s key highlights:

       Finalization of criteria for vendors of various types of liquor to obtain licenses.

       Withdrawal of the government from the liquor business and handing it to private players.

       Fixing the wholesale price of liquor as well as a certain number of vendors are permitted in a specific zone (Delhi is divided into 32 zones)

       Digitalization of tender process for vendors

       Open bidding of liquor licenses previously held by the government to private firms.

       Permitting home delivery of liquor and allowing shops to stay open till 3 am. Licensees could also offer unlimited discounts. The government reported a substantial 27 percent increase in income from the policy, generating around ₹ 8,900 crores.

What went wrong?

Kejriwal’s ambitious excise policy of 2021-2022 received heavy opposition from both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, who questioned the policy on ‘Moral’ and ‘Ethical’ grounds.

 The reforms soon hit a significant impediment when Manish Sisodia (who heads the excise department) was accused of favoring certain vendors and satisfying selfish interests through the policy. Sisodia was also accused of partially favoring certain vendors about ‘commissions’ and ‘kickbacks’ that the AAP used for its election campaigns in Punjab (2022).

Soon after that, V K Saxena, lieutenant governor of Delhi (representative of the central government), cited a report from the chief secretary (that flagged alleged violations of various acts and rules besides deliberate and gross procedural lapses to provide “undue benefits” to liquor licenses) suggested a CBI probe into the policy’s ‘irregularities in July of 2022.

The policy was officially scraped on the 31st of August, and Delhi returned to its old excise regime. The government said a new policy would replace the current one and be implemented in the forthcoming financial year.

What is the current scenario?

Amid the ongoing probe, Manish Sisodia’s arrest on February 26th (following the raid on his house by CBI wherein no such incriminating evidence of corruption was found), Kejriwal’s questioning by the CBI, the national capital’s government has decided to extend the excise policy of 2020-21(that was set to expire on the 31st of March 2023) to the 30th of September 2023. Officials have attributed the delay in framing a new policy to the ongoing CBI probe.


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