By: Shubham Ghosh
India’s elite Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Sunday (26) evening arrested Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22 after nearly eight hours of questioning as his answers were not satisfactory, officials said.
Sisodia arrived at the CBI headquarters around 11.12 am local time for the second round of questioning, they said.
The officials of the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Branch grilled the minister on various aspects of the excise policy, his alleged link with Dinesh Arora and other accused mentioned in the FIR, and details of message exchanges from multiple phones among others, they said.
The CBI investigators were not satisfied with the Sisodia’s responses. It was claimed that he was not cooperating in the investigation and avoiding clarifications sought by officials on crucial points, leading to his arrest, they said.
The probe agency officials said it was felt that custodial interrogation was necessary to put Sisodia through intense questioning, they said.
Before leaving for the CBI office earlier in the day, Sisodia had expressed apprehension that he may be arrested.
He went to Raj Ghat along with his supporters before reaching the CBI headquarters which was turned into an impregnable fortress by Delhi Police by raising four layers of barricades on the JLN Stadium Road since 1 am, officials said.
They said the media personnel and everyday passersby were stopped at the SCOPE Complex gate, around 500 meters from the CBI Headquarters, to prevent any protests or breakdown of law and order.
Addressing the media and supporters from his official vehicle, a white-coloured electric car, Sisodia expressed apprehensions about his arrest.
“When I left my job as a journalist, my wife supported me. Even today, my family is standing by my side. My workers will take care of my family if I get arrested,” he said.
The AAP leader, the accused number one in the CBI FIR, was first questioned on October 17, a month before the probe agency filed its charge sheet in the case on November 25 last year.
According to officials, the CBI had not named Sisodia in the charge sheet as the central probe agency kept the probe open against him and other suspects and accused.
He was booked under IPC sections 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) and 477A (falsification of accounts) and provisions of the Prevention Of Corruption Act including Section 7 (taking undue advantage to influence a public servant by corrupt or illegal means or by the exercise of personal influence).
Along with Sisodia, the CBI had also named Arva Gopi Krishna, the then commissioner (excise); Anand Tiwari, the then deputy commissioner (excise); Pankaj Bhatnagar, assistant commissioner (excise); Vijay Nair, former CEO, Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management company; Manoj Rai, ex-employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, director, Brindco Sales Pvt. Ltd; Sameer Mahendru, managing director, Indospirit Group, as accused in the FIR.