Published On: Sat, May 27th, 2023

Manish Sisodia destroyed 2 phones, pressurised excise officials: CBI

New Delhi: Former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has been named as an accused in the CBI chargesheet in the excise policy case.

Sisodia “pressurized” the excise officials for granting license

The supplementary chargesheet filed by the central agency claimed that Manish Sisodia had admitted to destroying two mobile phones, and called it “another incriminating circumstance” against the AAP leader.

The CBI also named Hyderabad-based CA Buchi Babu Gorantla, liquor trader Amandeep Singh Dhall and Arjun Pandey in the supplementary chargesheet.

Rouse Avenue Court in Delhi on Saturday took cognizance of CBI’s supplementary chargesheet naming Manish Sisodia, Buchi Babu, Amandeep Dhall and Arjun Pandey. All accused have been summoned on June 2.

“Investigation has revealed that from January 1, 2020, to August 18, 2022, Manish Sisodia has used three mobile handsets. Two handsets which were used prior to July 22, 2022 have been admittedly destroyed by Manish Sisodia as confirmed by him in his response to Notice under section 91 CrPC,” the CBI said.

The agency added, “Willful disposal of handsets containing incriminating evidence related to the policy is another incriminating circumstance against the Manish Sisodia.”
The chargesheet claimed that Manish Sisodia was “main architect of GoM report”. It further alleged that Sisodia had “ulterior motive that distributors will give him undue advantage in exchange for favourable provisions.”

“In pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy, private wholesalers were given undue benefit in the form of very high profit margin (increased from 5% to 12%) and a long rope for arm twisting the manufactures for getting undue rebates / incentives by the accused Manish Sisodia with the ulterior motive that these distributors will give undue advantage to him or his close associate and representative Vijay Nair, in lieu of such favourable provisions,” it read.

The CBI claimed Manish Sisodia manipulated the process of taking comments from public and got fabricated emails from minorities commission chairman.

“Manish Sisodia with the mala-fide intention to manipulate the aforesaid process of seeking comments/ suggestions from public/stakeholders, got fabricated certain emails through Sh. Zakir Khan, Chairperson of Delhi Minorities Commission, which were sent by the interns of Delhi Minorities Commission on the dedicated email ID of the Excise Department,” the CBI chargesheet said.

The central agency said, “The Excise Policy 2021-22 was formulated during in May 2021, it was processed and approved by the Council of Ministers through circulation on 21.05.2021, in very hurried manner, despite it being peak of Covid Pandemic.”

It further alleged, “Criminal conspiracy in respect of incorporating favourable provisions in the New Excise Policy is further established by the visit of the accused Vijay Nair to Hyderabad.”

The chargesheet mentioned, “During this period, on 20.05.2021 and 21.05.2021, the accused persons of South Group, namely, Abhishek Boinpally, Arun R. Pillai and Butchibabu Gorantla, Sharath Reddy had travelled to New Delhi in a Chartered plane and held a meeting at Gaur Apartment, near Claridges Hotel, New Delhi on 21.05.2021 with the accused Vijay Nair, along with the other accused persons, i.e., Amandeep Singh Dhall and Arjun Pandey, where the criminal conspiracy was hatched regarding modalities for obtaining pecuniary advantage in return of undue favour caused in the Excise Policy.”

The CBI informed the court that several provisions suggested by the south group was verbatim produced in GoM report.

“WhatsApp chats revealed that provisions for a new designation of Director Wholesale Operations and a provision for having ‘Joint Venture’ for running Elite Stores/Super Premium stores verbatim reproduced in the final GoM report dated 22.03.2022, when they were not mentioned in draft policy,” it read.

The CBI alleged that Sisodia “pressurized” the excise officials for granting license to M/s Indospirits “despite pendency of complaints of cartelization against them”.
The probe agency said Buchi Babu Gorantla was an active conspirator of South group.

“WhatsApp chats retrieved from his phone state that “2-3 visits to Delhi are required for tweaking and freezing the policy”,” the chargesheet stated.

“Buchi Babu Gorantla was a frequent visitor to New Delhi along with the accused persons of the South Group on crucial dates, when GOM Report was being finalised, when the Draft Excise Policy was being finalized, when tender was floated and when the Letters of Acceptance were being issued to successful bidders,” it added.

The CBI said no incriminating evidence has been found against Arva Gopi Krishna, the then Commissioner Excise, to indicate any criminal misconduct on his part.
The CBI had arrested Manish Sisodia for alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 on February 26, following several rounds of questioning. The senior AAP leader is being probed by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate over alleged corruption and money laundering.

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