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PoliticsIndiaWhat aides of Manish Sisodia did to deserve double arrest

What aides of Manish Sisodia did to deserve double arrest

The CBI had earlier booked Manish Sisodia, three excise department officials and many vendors and distributors among the 15 accused it had arraigned in its FIR

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today arrested Vijay Nair, the man in charge of communications in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and businessman Abhishek Boinpally in the Delhi liquor case — after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the duo in connection with the same case. Both the accused are aides of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

The ED asked a of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court to grant custody of the two, which it secured.

Vijay Nair and businessman Abhishek Boinpally have been granted bail too (by a Delhi court), but that is only in connection with a CBI case of irregularities in the Delhi excise policy. They, however, will not be released from custody as they were arrested by the ED in the money laundering case and sent to five-day custody.

Case against aides of Manish Sisodia

Special Public Prosecutor NK Matta told the court that the accused persons were giving evasive replies to their questions and considering the voluminous documents, borne out of 169 raids, their custody was required for effective questioning. The agency told the court that they moved the remand application as their role in the money laundering case emerged while investigating the case.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, who appeared for Nair, opposed the ED remand by submitting that the CBI and ED were “working in tandem to defeat my bail.”

The CBI had arrested Vijay Nair, a former CEO of event management company Only Much Louder, and an accused in the Delhi Excise Policy case on 27 September in connection with the Delhi liquor policy scam.

Nair is an aide of the Delhi deputy chief minister, whose name features on the top of the list of the accused in the case of the capital’s liquor policy scam.

The CBI had filed a case against alleged corruption in the 2021-22 excise policy. The excise policy was subsequently withdrawn by the AAP government.

The CBI says that the Hyderabad-based Boinpally was lobbying on behalf of several liquor industry figures in southern India. A former CEO of an event management company, Nair had links with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), according to the CBI. He had conspired criminally with others to take undue advantage of the now-discarded excise policy of the Delhi government for 2021–2022.

The ED had previously arrested the promoter of the liquor company Indospirit, Sameer Mahandru, the general manager of the liquor company Pernod Ricard, Benoy Babu and the full-time director and promoter of Aurobindo Pharma, P Sarath Chandra Reddy.

In connection with the ED’s case, the agency has so far conducted as many as 169 search operations. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is an accused among others in the money laundering case. After filing the case, CBI conducted a raid on Sisodia’s and some other Delhi government officials’ premises.

Case against Boinpally

The CBI had arrested Boinpally last month for lobbying for certain liquor businessmen based in southern India. The CBI had told the court that they arrested the businessman after statements of witnesses and the perusal of bank accounts revealed that he was part of repeated meetings in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad with other accused persons and liquor traders in connection with the formulation of the liquor policy and to benefit from its provisions.

Boinpally was involved in a conspiracy in pursuance of which he transferred money through hawala channels to co-accused Vijay Nair through another co-accused Dinesh Arora prior to the implementation of the now-withdrawn excise policy during the period from November 2021 to July 2022, the agency had said.

The money transferred by co-accused Sameer Mahendru of M/s Indospirits also finally landed in Boinpally’s account and he was not able to satisfactorily explain the receipt of the said money, it had said.

The CBI case is the basis

The CBI alleges that Mahendru was actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of excise policy. Mahendru’s came a day after Vijay Nair’s in September. The FIR says a person named Arjun Pandey collected an amount of about Rs 2 to 4 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Nair.

On 7 September, the ED had conducted searches at 35 locations across the country in connection with their probe and it had also searched the Jor Bagh residence of Mahendru, who is an accused in the case.

The ED case, which was registered in early September, was based on a CBI FIR filed in August. The CBI had booked Sisodia, three excise department officials, and several vendors and distributors among the 15 accused it had arraigned in its FIR.

The CBI FIR stated: “Praveen Kumar Rai, Director, MHA… has conveyed directions of the competent authority for enquiry into the matter of irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy of GNCTD of Delhi for the year 2021-22 by Central Bureau of Investigation. He has also forwarded a letter of L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena alleging irregularities in framing and implementation of the excise policy.”

Only Much Louder “is enclosed herewith, which discloses that Manish Sisodia, Deputy CM; Arava Gopi Krishna, then Commissioner (Excise); Anand Tiwari, then Deputy Commissioner (Excise); and Pankaj Bhatnagar, Assistant Commissioner (Excise) were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to excise policy for the year 2021-22 without the approval of competent authority with an intention to extend undue favours to the licensee post tender,” it added.

The CBI also said in its FIR citing ‘reliable sources’ who it said have revealed that Vijay Nair, Manoj Rai, an ex-employee of Pernod Ricard, the owner of Brindco Spirits Amandeep Dhal, and Mahendru are “actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of excise policy”.

The “source further revealed that some of the L-1 holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors with an ab-initio intention to divert the funds as an undue pecuniary advantage to public servants. In furtherance to this, they are showing false entries in their books of accounts to keep their record straight. Source further revealed that Amit Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt Limited, Gurgaon; Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey are close associates of Manish Sisodia and are actively involved in managing and diverting the undue pecuniary advantage collected from liquor licensees to accused public servants,” it said.

The “source further revealed that Sameer Mahendru, MD, Indospirit, has transferred an amount of one crore to the account of Radha Industries. Radha Industries is being managed by Dinesh Arora. Source further revealed that Arun Ramchandra Pillai used to collect undue pecuniary advantage from Sameer Mahendru for onward transmission to accused public servant through Vijay Nair.”

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