A week after the Delhi government announced its decision to scrap its new liquor policy, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said he has written to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) requesting a probe into what he said was a sudden change in former lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s decision to open shops in unauthorised colonies.
The change in the L-G’s decision on shops in unauthorised colonies caused “thousands of crores of losses” to the Delhi government, Sisodia said at a press conference on Saturday.
Sisodia had announced on July 30 that the new excise policy would be rolled back. This came after current L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the new excise policy over alleged irregularities, and the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing launched a probe into the excise department.
Addressing an Important Press Conference | LIVE https://t.co/jjV7nTot3i
— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) August 6, 2022
“In May 2021, the Cabinet passed the new excise policy. We said that the number of liquor shops will remain the same. But in the earlier policy, the shops were unevenly distributed. Some wards had 25 shops, some had none. Some malls had many shops. In the new policy, this principle was highlighted that there will be equitable distribution of shops, but the number of shops will not change. This was an important provision of the policy,” Sisodia said.
The policy was then sent to the L-G for approval and he made important suggestions for changes, Sisodia explained. “All suggestions of the L-G were accepted, and the new policy was sent to the L-G in June. He read it carefully and it was then passed. The policy said that unequitable distribution will be stopped. In every ward, there will be two to three shops, including in unauthorised areas,” Sisodia said.
But the L-G’s office then changed its decision, Sisodia claimed. “The L-G read the policy and then approved it. After it was approved, tenders were issued. But when it came to opening the shops, the L-G changed his stance. In the first week of November, the proposal to open shops was sent to the L-G, since shops were to be opened from November 17 onwards, including in unauthorised areas. On November 15, the L-G laid down a new condition that to open shops in unauthorised areas, permission from the DDA (Delhi Development Authority) and MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) is needed. When he read the policy, this condition was not laid down,” he said.
“Why was this decision changed 48 hours before? Which shop owners made a profit? Did the L-G make the decision himself or under pressure from someone? I have written to the CBI asking for a probe,” Sisodia said. “The real corruption was here… where the decision was changed,” he added.
Sisodia said that every year shops were being opened in unauthorised areas even before the new policy kicked in. “Every year these files were approved. This was approved even when the policy mentioned it. But when it went to the L-G office as a file to open the shops, the L-G office changed its stand,” he said.
“Because of this change in stance, the shops have not been able to open in unauthorised colonies. The new licensees went to court, and the court ordered that in the unauthorised wards, licence fees be relaxed on a pro-rata basis, and they be given a rebate. Because of this the government has faced thousands of crores of losses. Without discussing it with the Cabinet or government, the L-G changed his decision. The new excise policy would have brought revenue to the government, but instead, it caused losses because of this change in the L-G’s stand,” he said.
“The most important thing here is that some shops were allowed to open and others were not. Those who were allowed to open shops made profits. This was a deliberate attempt to ensure some vendors got profits and others faced losses,” Sisodia added.