Uncovering Delhi's Excise Policy Scandal: A Timeline Of Corruption

Uncovering Delhi's Excise Policy Scandal: A Timeline Of 'Corruption'

by Aaina - Friday, March 10, 2023 03:36 PM IST
Uncovering Delhi's Excise Policy Scandal: A Timeline Of 'Corruption'A comprehensive look at the case that has become the AAP's biggest challenge till now.
  • The Delhi liquor policy case is arguably the most notorious story to come out of the AAP government in Delhi, yet.

    Here is a timeline of the case covering everything from the formulation of the policy to the recent arrest of Manish Sisodia.

The formulation and implementation of Delhi's new excise policy has revealed irregularities that go beyond mere corruption and money laundering.

It appears that it involved an elaborate inter-state collaboration between politicians, liquor manufacturers, and middlemen, all seemingly aimed at reaping unregulated profits at the expense of the people of Delhi.

Now that Manish Sisodia, a member of the Aam Aadmi Party and former Deputy Chief Minister of New Delhi, is in jail — attention has turned to K Kavitha, the daughter of Telangana Chief Minister and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC, who has been summoned by the CBI for questioning on 11 March 2023.

In order to get a sense of the intricacies of the scam and the ongoing investigation, we have prepared a timeline of events as they unfolded.

Making of the Scam

5 February 2021: Delhi cabinet appoints a group of ministers (GoM) under Manish Sisodia to finalise a new excise policy for Delhi. The GoM includes Health Minister Satyendar Jain and Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot.

1 October 2021: The new excise policy, which completely hands over the liquor business in Delhi to private players, is implemented.

28 January 2022: 552 of the permitted 849 liquor vends open in Delhi. The liquor shops offer big discounts on sale of liquor.

By June 2022:  90 per cent of the liquor in the market is reportedly selling at nearly 50 per cent discount, forcing smaller retailers to shut shop and allowing cartelisation.

2 July 2022: The Delhi Liquor Traders Association files a case in the Delhi High Court, terming the new excise policy unconstitutional since it sought a lump sum payment of duty instead of per bottle.

The Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police launches a probe into allegations of undue influence of some “powerful” groups in cornering the liquor licences.

22 July 2022: Newly appointed Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, VK Saxena, recommends a CBI probe into the Kejriwal government's Excise Policy 2021-22 over alleged violations of rules and procedural lapses.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry recommended on Delhi Chief Secretary's report filed in July, showed prima facie violations of Government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009, and Delhi Excise Rules-2010.

Eleven officers of the Delhi’s Excise department, including the then excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna and Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari, are suspended by newly-appointed Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena. 

31 July 2022: The ambitious policy is scrapped amid allegations of corruption and irregularities in its drafting and implementation. 

1 September 2022: The Delhi government reverts to the old liquor policy from before 17 November 2021, replacing private liquor shops with over 300 government vends.


17 August 2022: The Ministry of Home Affairs gives sanction to CBI to file an FIR against Manish Sisodia and others in connection with alleged irregularities in framing and implementing the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.

19 August 2022: CBI conducts searches at Manish Sisodia's office and residence and 31 other locations across seven states in connection with the case.

30 August 2022: CBI officials reach Punjab National Bank branch located in Sector 4 Vasundhara, Ghaziabad to search Sisodia's bank locker. Following the search, Sisodia claims that nothing has been found and he has been given a "clean chit".

6 September 2022: ED conducts its first round of raids at around 40 locations, including that of some Punjab government excise department officers, in connection with a money laundering investigation into alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi Excise Policy. 

16 September 2022: ED launches another round of raids at about 40 locations across the country, including premises linked to liquor businessmen, distributors, and supply chain networks in Nellore and some other cities in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi-NCR.

27 September 2022: Vijay Nair, former CEO of Only Much Louder, is arrested by the CBI in connection with the case.

28 September 2022: The ED arrests Sameer Mahendru, the Managing Director of Indospirit Group. During its search operations, ED had raided Mahendru’s Jor Bagh residence on 7 September. 

As per CBI, a person named Arjun Pandey received amount of about Rs 2-4 crore from Mahendru on behalf of Vijay Nair. He is also accused of being actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of excise policy, along with Nair.

10 October 2022: Abhishek Boinapally is arrested by the CBI in connection with the case.

17 October 2022: Manish Sisodia is questioned at the CBI headquarters for nine hours. The agency also questions Magunta Raghava Reddy, the son of Ongole YSR Congress MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy.

5 November 2022: ED interrogates Minister Manish Sisodia's personal assistant, Devendra Sharma, in connection with the money laundering probe.

8 November 2022: The CBI informs the Court that Dinesh Arora, a close aide of Sisodia, has turned approver in the case.

Dinesh Arora records his statement under section 164 of CrPC before a magistrate and is granted pardon by a special court for helping in the investigation.

10 November 2022: The ED arrests Sarath Reddy, Director of Aurobindo Pharma, and Benoy Babu, an executive of Pernod Ricard, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Seen as a high-profile arrest as Reddy is related to YSR Congress MP, Vijay Sai Reddy. He is considered to be a close aide of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy.

14 November 2022: Vijay Nair and Abhishek Boinpally are arrested by the ED under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in connection with an investigation into the Delhi Excise Policy scam.

25 November 2022: CBI files its first charge sheet against seven accused in the Delhi Excise Policy scam case. The names included Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinpally, Mootha Gautam, Sameer Mahendru, Arun Pillai, and two former excise officers Kuldeep and Narendra Singh.

30 November 2022: Another close aide of Sisodia is arrested by ED. Amit Arora, a Gurgaon based businessman and director of Buddy Retail Pvt Limited, is the sixth arrest in this case by the investigative agency.

As per the chargesheet filed by the CBI, Amit Arora, with two other accused, Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey were closely associated with Sisodia.

In a sting video, Amit Arora, was seen explaining the process of how liquor barons and private businessmen, including AAP's communication in charge, Vijay Nair, formulated the new Delhi Excise Policy.

1 December 2022: The ED tells the Court that the magnitude of the destruction is such that most suspects, liquor barons, senior government officials, the Excise Minister of Delhi and other suspects have changed their phones multiple times.

The approximate value of the devices used and destroyed has been to the tune of Rs 1.38 crore.

1 December 2022: The remand report, on Amit Arora, submitted by ED, names members of ‘South Group’ alleged to have given kickbacks to the tune of at least Rs 100 crore to Vijay Nair and others on behalf of AAP leaders.

The ED alleges that the Group is controlled by Sarath Reddy, Ms K Kavitha, Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy.

2 December 2022: The CBI issues notice to Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter and TRS MLC K Kavitha for questioning her in the case on 6 December.

11 December 2022: A team of CBI examined Telangana BRS MLC K Kavitha at her residence in Hyderabad, after she placed a request of postponing the date from December 6. They record her statement.

22 December 2022: ED names BRS MLC K Kavitha in its chargesheet. It alleges that a group including Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, Raghav Magunta, Sarath Reddy and K Kavitha paid Vijay Nair Rs 100 crore in kickbacks.

These payments were made in advance as part of an agreement between the South Group and the AAP leaders, and in return, the South Group received unrestricted access and unfair advantages, as well as stakes in established wholesale businesses and multiple retail zones beyond what was permitted by policy.

6 January 2023: ED files second chargesheet. Names 12 accused but skips Sisodia’s name citing ongoing investigation. 

9 January 2023: It is revealed that the AAP government incurred an expenditure of Rs 25.25 crore on lawyers' fee to defend itself in the Delhi excise policy scam.

14 January 2023: The CBI officials searches Sisodia's office at Delhi Secretariat, again, to collect more evidence in the case. It seizes his computer to retrieve deleted data.

17 January 2023: BJP MLAs wear black clothes and turbans in the Delhi Assembly to protest against scams of the AAP government, including liquor scam and demand CM Kejriwal's resignation.

26 January 2023: The ED attaches assets worth Rs 76.54 crore belonging to persons and firms under the scanner in the Delhi Liquor scam.

3 February 2023: ED files a supplementary chargesheet where it states that part of the Rs 100 crore in ‘kickbacks’ generated from the scrapped Delhi excise policy was used in the AAP campaign in the 2022 Goa assembly election. It named a total of 17 individuals and companies.

ED also alleged that Sisodia and others were using phones and SIM cards purchased under different names to hide their tracks.

The agency said that Vijay Nair arranged a video call between CM Kejriwal and businessman, Sameer Mahendru. During the call, Kejriwal referred to the associate as "his boy" and told Mahendru to trust him. 

8 and 9 February 2023: The CBI arrests a Hyderabad-based chartered accountant (CA), Butchibabu Gorantla, understood to be the former auditor of BRS MLC K Kavitha, in connection with the Delhi excise policy case.

Rajesh Joshi, the head of Chariot Productions Media Pvt Ltd, and Gautam Malhotra, son of former Shromani Akali Dal MLA from Punjab Deep Malhotra are also taken into custody.

As per investigation, Joshi’s company received certain amount from the ‘kickbacks’ for the Goa assembly polls. 

Gautam Malhotra is the promoter of the Oasis group of Punjab and is involed in liquor manufacturing and distribution business in Punjab, Delhi and UP.

11 February 2023: ED arrests Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) MP's son Magunta Raghava Reddy in Delhi excise policy scam case.

18 February 2023: The CBI, again, summons Sisodia for questioning. He requests postponing the date on the grounds of budget preparation being Delhi's Finance minister. The agency grants extension.

26 February 2023: The CBI arrests Manish Sisodia in connection with corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped liquor policy after nearly eight hours of questioning.

3 March 2023: Manish Sisodia resigns as minister in Delhi government, shortly after the Supreme Court rejects his bail plea.

7 March 2023: The ED arrests Arun Ramchandra Pillai, a Hyderabad-based businessman and member of the 'South Group'. He is the 11th person to be held in connection with the case.

The ED alleges that Pillai collected bribes from Sameer Mahendru, the managing director of Indospirit, and handed them over to other accused individuals.

As per ED, he transferred Rs 4.75 crore to the account of accused Mootha Goutam, who owns a TV channel and Rs 3.85 crore was transferred to the bank account of a beauty salon owned by relatives of BRS MLC K Kavitha.

8 March 2023: K Kavitha is summoned by the ED on 9 March, in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy case.

According to ED, Pillai was reportedly acting as her benami in Indospirits, where he held 32.5 per cent stake.

It is the second time in four months that she has been summoned.

Kavitha asks for more time. On Kavitha's request, ED shifts the date to 11 March.

(More details will be added as the case progresses)

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