Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was arrested and accused of providing undue benefits to liquor vending licensees. Sisodia held the excise portfolio and several other ministries in the Delhi government.

What is Delhi’s Liquor Policy?

The Excise policy was framed on the recommendations of an expert committee and came into force on November 17, 2021. The policy was aimed at increasing government revenues and also ending the liquor mafia’s influence and black marketing. Under the new policy, open bidding was conducted for 849 liquor vends which were awarded to private companies.

The city was divided into 32 zones, each allotted a maximum of 27 vends. There were no individual licenses and the bidding was done zone-by-zone.

The city government’s role in the liquor business ended with the new excise policy. The government was left with no control over the sale of liquor in the capital. While the government said the policy would lead to equal distribution of liquor vends in the city, several social, educational, and religious groups weren’t happy with it.

That it was implemented in the middle of the second Covid wave made things worse for the Delhi government. The policy was rolled back in July 2022 and the old liquor policy came into force once again. 

A controversy soon erupted after it was alleged that the excise policy 2021-22 of the Kejriwal government was used to extend undue financial favors to the liquor licensees, much after the tenders had been awarded, and thus caused huge losses to the exchequer.

A report by the Chief Secretary of Delhi, dated July 8, 2022, showed prima facie violations of the GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR) 1993, Delhi Excise Act 2009, and Delhi Excise Rules 2010.

CBI’s Action on Delhi excise policy

The CBI named 15 individuals in its FIR filed in connection with the Delhi excise policy 2021-2022, with Manish Sisodia topping the list. According to the FIR, some of the L-1 license holders are issuing credit notes to retail vendors with the objective to divert the funds as an undue pecuniary advantage to public servants, showing false entries in their books of accounts to keep their records correct.

Manish Sisodia’s arrest

The Delhi Chief Secretary’s report alleged that “Minister In-charge of the Excise Department, Manish Sisodia, took and got executed, major decisions/actions”, which were “in violation of the statutory provisions and the notified Excise Policy that had huge financial implications.”

Manish Sisodia also allegedly extended undue financial favors to the liquor licensees much after the tenders had been awarded and thus caused huge losses to the exchequer, the report claimed

“It was done so with the sole aim of benefitting private liquor barons in lieu of financial benefits to individuals at the highest echelons of the government leading up to the Minister-in-charge of Excise & Finance, Manish Sisodia,” the Delhi Chief Secretary has said in his report.


In August, the CBI registered an FIR in a special court that mentioned crores were allegedly paid to close associates of Sisodia by Sameer Mahendru, the owner of Indospirits. The liquor trader had been actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy

The FIR flagged payments in crores allegedly made to close associates of Sisodia by Sameer Mahendru “The owner of Indospirits” one of the liquor traders actively involved in irregularities in the framing and implementation of the excise policy.


Based on the Delhi Chief Secretary’s report, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena ordered a probe into the controversial Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 of the Arvind Kejriwal-led government.

The Delhi LG VK recommended the CBI probe on July 22, 2022, into the alleged rule violations and procedural flaws in the implementation of the excise policy.





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