Delhi liquor policy scam: MHA suspends AP IAS officer Arava Gopi Krishna, 14 others

CBI had booked Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, former Delhi Excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna of Andhra Pradesh, and 14 others in the alleged liquor policy scam.

By Coreena Suares  Published on  23 Aug 2022 3:30 AM GMT
Delhi liquor policy scam:  MHA suspends AP IAS officer Arava Gopi Krishna, 14 others

Hyderabad: Heads have started rolling in the Delhi liquor policy scam after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) suspended former Excise Commissioner, GNCTD, Arava Gopi Krishna. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, the IAS officer was booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the scam a few days ago.

On August 22, the MHA issued formal orders placing Krishna and his team under suspension.


What led to the CBI raid?

It all began when Praveen Kumar Rai, the director of MHA, directed the CBI to inquire into the irregularities in framing and implementation of the Excise policy of the government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) for the year 2021-22.

The allegation against Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, the then Excise commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, the then Excise deputy commissioner Anand Tiwari, and assistant commissioner (Excise) Pankaj Bhatnagar was that the officials were instrumental in recommending and taking decisions pertaining to Excise policy 2021-22 without the approval of the competent authority. This was done with an intention to extend undue favours to the liquor license tender, the CBI said.

The CBI in its FIR said Vijay Nair, the former CEO of Only Much Louder, an entertainment and event management firm; Manoj Rai, former employee of Pernod Ricard; Amandeep Dhal, owner of Brindco Spirits; and Sameer Mahendru, owner of Indo Spirits are actively involved in irregularities in framing and implementation of the Excise policy.

CBI had booked Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, former Delhi Excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna of Andhra Pradesh, and 14 others in the alleged liquor policy scam.

The investigation agency carried out raids against multiple Excise officials, liquor company executives, dealers, and public servants in the alleged liquor policy violations scam. The raids went on for nearly eight hours at 21 locations in Delhi and the National Capital Area.

IAS officer and former Delhi Excise commissioner Arava Gopi Krishna who hails from Andhra Pradesh was one among the 11 key officials who were suspended by Lieutenant Governor Vinay Kumar Saxena on 6 August for serious lapses in the implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22.

Earlier Disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the suspended officials.

The 11 suspended officials included ex-deputy Excise commissioner Anand Kumar Tiwari, three ad-hoc DANICS officers, and six officials of the Delhi government's Excise department.

Sources said the suspended officials violated the statuary provisions in finalizing the tender and extending post-tender benefits to select vendors. The action was taken by Saxena on the basis of an inquiry report filed by the Directorate of Vigilance (DoV).

A month before, an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation had already been recommended by the LG into the alleged violation of rules and procedural lapses in the implementation of the Excise Policy 2021-22.

Under the policy that was implemented on November 17, 2021, private firms were issued retail licences for 849 liquor vends across the city divided into 32 zones. However, the policy has now been withdrawn by the AAP government led by Arvind Kejriwal.

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