Delhi liquor policy row: Former excise commissioner, Sisodia aide among officers suspended by L-G

Deputy Governor (LG) Vinai Kumar Saxena on Saturday suspended and commenced disciplinary proceedings against former Excise Commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna (IAS Officer) and Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari for their alleged involvement in Corruption in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi Taxation Policy 2021-22.

Krishna was the excise commissioner when the policy was formulated and implemented on 17 November 2021, and Anand Tiwari was the deputy commissioner to Deputy Prime Minister Manish Sisodia.

Besides them, LG has also suspended and ordered significant disciplinary action against 2 other ad hoc officers from DANICS, the then two deputy commissioners and 9 other officials from the excise department. In all, 11 officers were suspended from the excise department.

The officials arrested are Assistant Commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar, Narinder Singh, Neeraj Gupta, Department Officer Coljit Singh, Subhash Ranjan, Suman, Dling Hand Satya Prat Bhargav, Sachin Solanki and Gaurav Man.

“LG made this decision in light of serious loopholes on the part of the personnel involved, including irregularities in tender termination and extension of post-tender benefits to select vendors,” the Directorate of Vigilance (DoV) explained in its report, sources in LG’s office said.

The action against the senior officers followed an investigation report submitted by Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar and the vigil department. The Chief Secretary, on 8 July, submitted a report to the Chief Minister of Delhi and Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, alleging corruption and violations of the ToBR rule. The report also claimed that there are significant procedural loopholes and that the Tax Department is granting undue benefits at the direction of Excise Minister Manish Sisodia, who is also under the watchful eye of the Delhi Police’s CBI and EOW.

Krishna was moved after the Excise Department had given its response to the First Secretary to the seven questions he had raised regarding the excise policy.

Following this report, LG, in July last week, directed Kumar to provide a detailed report on the role of officers and civil servants in illegally formulating and implementing the policy.

The sources said that the officers are also being scanned because they did not inform the relevant authority despite knowing that “illegal activities are going on and the changes are being made by Sisodia on behalf of the cabinet without LG’s approval.”

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