Deleted File, Officer’s Account – CBI’s Case vs Manish Sisodia: Sources
A digital device seized from Delhi excise department led the CBI to unearth the alleged role of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the liquor policy case, sources from the agency have said.
Mr Sisodia was arrested by the CBI last night following an eight-hour questioning session. He is to be presented in the court this afternoon. The senior AAP leader faces corruption allegations in bringing a now-scrapped liquor sale policy in the national capital. The party has denied the charges, alleging political vendetta by the BJP-led central government.
According to sources in the central agency, a digital device was seized during a search at the excise department on August 19. While examining it, the agency traced one of the excise policy draft documents to a system that wasn’t part of the excise department network, the sources said.
When they questioned an excise department official in this connection, they got a lead to the computer in Mr Sisodia’s office, the sources said, adding that they seized the system from the Deputy Chief Minister’s office on January 14.
The sources said that most of the files on the system had been deleted, but they managed to retrieve the records with the help of the CBI’s forensic team. The forensic examination, they said, revealed that the document under the scanner had “originated externally” and was received via WhatsApp.
The CBI then summoned a 1996-batch bureaucrat of DANICS — Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Civil) Services –, who had served as secretary to Mr Sisodia, and questioned him about the file. His statement was recorded before a magistrate in the first week of February.
The officer, the sources said, told investigators that Mr Sisodia called him to the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in March 2021 and gave him a copy of the Group of Ministers’ draft report on the excise policy. The official said Delhi minister Satyendar Jain, now in jail after his arrest in a money laundering case, was also present at the meeting, the CBI sources added.
It was from this draft copy of the GoM report that the “12% profit margin clause” originated, the sources said. There are no records of any discussion or any file relating to how the 12% profit margin clause was arrived at, the CBI sources added.
During his questioning, Mr Sisodia was asked about this draft document, but he refused to share details, the CBI sources said.
In a statement issued after Mr Sisodia’s arrest yesterday, the central agency said “he gave evasive replies and did not cooperate (in) the investigation despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary”. “Therefore, he has been arrested,” the agency said.