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What is Delhi liquor policy? Why CBI raided Manish Sisodia’s house?

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The Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday raided Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in a case related to the Delhi liquor policy. The agency also raided the house of an IAS officer and two other public servants. Sisodia said in a series of tweets that the case against him was false. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, referring to an article in The New York Times, said Sisodia is the best education minister in the world and that there is no need to panic as the raid was merely an obstacle to stopping the Delhi government’s work. “Many obstacles will be created in our path in our mission. This is not the first raid on Sisodia; there were raids in the past too. There have been raids also on many of our ministers and me too, but nothing came out of them and nothing will come out this time as well,” he said.

What is the Delhi liquor policy?

The Delhi liquor policy was proposed in 2020 and implemented in November 2021. After the Delhi L-G ordered a CBI probe over alleged irregularities, the government withdrew the policy this year. As per the policy, the Delhi government had exited the liquor selling business and gave licenses to only private players. It divided the city into 32 zones — each zone having 27 liquor stores. This translates into 2-3 liquor shops in every municipal ward.

The Delhi government had said the policy would eliminate the liquor mafia, increase revenue for the government and enhance the consumer experience. The government had also issued guidelines for the appearance of liquor shops.

The new liquor policy paid dividends as the government’s revenue increased to Rs 8,900 crore.

One of the most controversial decisions was to let those selling liquor offer discounts and decide their own prices, freeing them from the confines of the maximum retail price.

Why the CBI raided Manish Sisodia?

In July, Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar sent a report to Lt Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena accusing Manish Sisodia of providing undue benefits to those holding liquor licenses. He alleged the benefits were extended in return for the money that was used by the AAP in the Punjab Assembly polls.

Saxena, acting on the report, recommended a CBI probe. Later that month, Sisodia withdrew the liquor policy and allowed the government-owned shops to sell liquor.  

Sisodia allegedly tweaked the policy without the L-G’s approval. According to the Indian Express, the report has mentioned that Sisodia allegedly waived off a license fee to the tune of Rs 144.36 crore on the pretext of the coronavirus pandemic.

Manish Sisodia said nothing will come out of the probe.

“We are hard-core honest and are shaping the future of lakhs of children. It is very unfortunate that those who do good work in our country are harassed like this. That is why our country could not become the number one,” Sisodia said.

“Till now, there have been many cases against me but nothing came out. Nothing will come out in this also. My work for good education in this country cannot be stopped,” he added.

AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha said the Centre wants to destroy Delhi’s health and education models and arrest ministers to destroy what he called the Kejriwal model.

With inputs from PTI

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