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Liquor policy: Sisodia seeks CBI probe into ex-LG's stance reversal

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Liquor policy: Sisodia seeks CBI probe into ex-LG's stance reversal
06 Aug 2022

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday said that he had written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate former Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's change of stance on the opening of liquor shops in unauthorized areas. The development comes a week after the Delhi government announced its decision to scrap its new liquor policy. He made these revelations during a press conference.


Why does this story matter?

The Delhi excise policy has been a cause of contention between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government. Earlier, Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena had also written to the CBI, urging an investigation into the liquor policy approved by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) administration last year. During the controversy, the policy was suspended but given a one-month extension.

What did Sisodia exactly say?

"I have written to the CBI to probe ex-LG's change of stance on the opening of liquor shops in unauthorized areas," Sisodia said. "The cabinet's policy was earlier cleared by former LG, but the decision was later revoked. This led to losses worth thousands of crores. Why was this decision taken? I hope the CBI carries out a fair probe," he said.

'Ex-LG changed decision, didn't consult cabinet or government'

"Shops have not been able to open in unauthorized colonies due to this change in stance. Without discussing this with the cabinet or government, the former LG changed his decision," Sisodia said. The Deputy CM said the stance reversal had benefited some liquor traders adding that CBI should probe if the former LG took the decision under pressure and whether any BJP is involved.

New policy attempted to abolish government's monopoly in liquor trade

As per reports the new regulation effectively broke the government's monopoly on retail liquor sales. And prior to November 17, 2021, when the new excise policy went into effect, the majority of the liquor stores in Delhi were run by four government-controlled corporations. Out of Delhi's 864 liquor outlets, these firms operated 475 of them. There were 389 private shops with individual permits.

849 private firms got liquor licenses under new policy
New policy

Following the implementation of the new policy last year, 849 liquor vending licenses were awarded to private enterprises through open bidding, as per officials. They said Delhi was divided into 32 zones, each with a maximum of 27 vends. Instead of individual licenses, bidding was done on a zone-by-zone basis, with each bidder authorized to bid on a maximum of two zones.

LG Saxena too had requested for CBI probe

Earlier this month, the LG requested that the CBI conduct a probe into any rule violations and procedural flaws in the implementation of the new excise policy. He further asked that the Delhi chief secretary undertake a probe into the suspected involvement of excise department staff in the alleged discrepancies, as well as claims of cartelization in the retail liquor license bidding process.

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