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Excise policy case: Delhi minister Kailash Gahlot appears before ED

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NewsDrum Desk
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New Delhi, Mar 30 (PTI) Delhi minister and AAP leader Kailash Gahlot appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday for questioning in connection with a money-laundering case linked to the now-scrapped excise policy for the capital, officials said.

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Gahlot (49), an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Najafgarh, is the minister for transport, home and law in the Delhi government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has been arrested in the case by the federal agency.

The minister was seen entering the ED office in central Delhi around 11:30 am.

Sources said Gahlot has been asked to appear for questioning in the case and getting his statement recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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He is expected to be questioned with regard to the formulation of the policy as he was part of the Group of Ministers (GoM), along with former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and former urban development minister Satyendar Jain, on the preparation and implementation of the new liquor scheme for 2021-22.

The ED has alleged that the excise policy was leaked to the "South Group" liquor lobby that included Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha.

This group is alleged to have given Rs 100-crore kickbacks to the AAP and its leaders, according to the agency.

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The ED has also alleged in its chargesheet that Gahlot handled a single SIM number but his IMEI (international mobile equipment identity) was changed thrice.

The agency has mentioned Gahlot's name in its chargesheet and in the context of Vijay Nair, the AAP communications in-charge arrested earlier in the case, saying Nair lived in the government bungalow allotted to Gahlot, who "ironically" lives in Najafgarh in southwest Delhi.

Describing this practice of allowing the use of a government residence to someone else by a public servant as a "criminal breach of trust", the ED had said it had asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take action in the matter.

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The excise case pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in formulating and executing the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22, which was later scrapped.

Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the liquor policy. Subsequently, the ED registered a case under the PMLA.

AAP leaders Sisodia and Sanjay Singh were arrested by the ED in the case earlier and they are in judicial custody. The AAP and its leaders have repeatedly denied the charges of wrongdoing, with Kejriwal alleging that the case was built by the BJP-led Centre to create a "smokescreen" that the AAP is a corrupt party. PTI NES RC

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