Businessman Dinesh Arora Sent to Enforcement Directorate Remand in Delhi Excise Policy Case

Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court on Friday ordered businessman Dinesh Arora to be remanded in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for four days in connection with the ongoing probe into the Delhi excise policy case. The ED had requested a seven-day remand for Arora, who has been declared an approver in the same case being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

During the court proceedings, senior counsel Vikas Pahwa, representing Dinesh Arora, stated that he had not seen the grounds of arrest and highlighted the peculiar nature of the case. Pahwa pointed out that Arora had been called by the ED in September before being granted pardon on November 16, 2022. The counsel argued that Arora’s statements were being relied upon by the ED in various Prosecution Complaints and emphasized that the court had taken those statements into account while rejecting bail.

According to the ED, Dinesh Arora, who is considered close to jailed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia, is the 13th person to be arrested in the case by the agency. Last year, a city court approved the CBI’s request to make Arora an approver in the case. The ED has filed five charge sheets so far, including one against Sisodia.

The ED filed its first chargesheet in the case last year, following over 200 search operations undertaken after registering an FIR based on the recommendation of the Delhi lieutenant governor, which was made on the findings of the Delhi chief secretary’s report showing prima facie violations of various laws.

In October, the ED conducted raids in Delhi and Punjab after the arrest of Sameer Mahendru, the Managing Director of Delhi-based liquor distributor Indospirit Group. The CBI also filed its first charge sheet in the case earlier this week.

Both the ED and the CBI have alleged irregularities in the modification of the Excise Policy, extension of undue favors to license holders, waiver or reduction of license fees, and extension of the L-1 license without proper approval. The accused officials allegedly received “illegal” gains diverted by the beneficiaries and made false entries in their books to evade detection.

The allegations include the refund of Earnest Money Deposit against set rules, the waiver of tendered license fees due to COVID-19, and the resulting loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer. The case was instituted based on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor.

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