Delhi News: Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has suspended 11 officers, including an IAS, for a ‘serious lapse’ in the implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22. However, the AAP government accused former Lt Governor Anil Baijal of taking “special favor” of some private businessmen and demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter. Sources said the officials against whom suspension and major disciplinary action were sanctioned include the then Excise Commissioner of the national capital Aarav Gopikrishna (2012 batch IAS officer of AGMUT cadre), Deputy Excise Commissioner Anand Kumar Tiwari, three ad-hoc DANICS officers and Delhi Police. There are six officers of the Excise Department of the Government.
The Lieutenant Governor took action on the basis of the report
According to sources, the Lt Governor has taken the decision in view of “serious lapses on the part of the concerned authorities” in the implementation of the excise policy, including “irregularities in finalization of tenders and providing post-tender benefits to selected vendors”. Is. Lieutenant Governor Saxena has taken action on the basis of an inquiry report filed by the Directorate of Vigilance (DoV). Significantly, the Lieutenant Governor has already recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the alleged violation of rules and procedural lapses in the implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22. In fact, under the new excise policy implemented on 17 November 2021, retail licenses were issued to private firms for 849 liquor shops in the city divided into 32 zones.
Sisodia raised questions on Baijal’s stance
In a press conference held on Saturday, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia alleged that Baijal changed his stand on opening of liquor shops in unauthorized areas, causing a loss of thousands of crores to the Delhi government. There is no response from Baijal on the allegations so far. When the Arvind Kejriwal-led government formulated the new excise policy, Baijal was the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi at that time. This policy was implemented on 17 November 2021. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has now withdrawn this policy.
The government is preparing to open liquor shops from September 1 under the old excise policy. Sisodia, who is also in charge of the Excise Department, said, “Under the new policy, 849 shops were to be opened across Delhi including unauthorized areas. The Lt Governor did not object to the proposal and approved it.” However, two days before the policy came into force on November 15, Baijal changed his stand and brought a condition that liquor shops in unauthorized areas Permission of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) will be required to open.
“Due to this change in stand of the Lieutenant Governor, shops could not open in unauthorized areas and the government lost thousands of crores of revenue. On the other hand, the shops that opened earned a lot of income.” Sisodia, who wrote a letter to CBI Director Subodh Kumar Jaiswal for investigation, said the agency should investigate why Baijal changed the excise policy overnight and asked him to do so. It should also be asked that under whose pressure he allegedly gave financial benefits to some liquor licensees.
Hitting out at the Arvind Kejriwal-led government, the BJP alleged that the AAP government was trying to divert attention from irregularities in its excise policy and was using Baijal as a “scapegoat”. BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra asked why Sisodia remained silent till now. He alleged several irregularities in the implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22 by the Delhi government.