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Sisodia, others changed mobile phones 170 times: ED alleges widespread destruction of evidence in liquor policy case

The agency made the submissions through its special public prosecutor NK Matta who sought 14-day custody of Amit Arora, a businessman, who was arrested by the agency earlier in the day.

Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia addressing a press conference. (Express Amit Mehra)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Wednesday told a Delhi court that there was largescale destruction of evidence in the excise policy money laundering case and accused Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and other suspects of allegedly changing their mobile phones multiple times amounting to a loss of a “whopping sum of Rs 1.38 crore”.

The agency made the submissions through its special public prosecutor NK Matta who sought 14-day custody of Amit Arora, a businessman, who was arrested by the agency earlier in the day and produced before Special Judge MK Nagpal.

The court remanded the accused to ED custody till December 7. It noted that the accused “played a vital role in the criminal conspiracy and he had also been involved in payment of kickbacks to ensure the said objective”.

The ED remand application states that there was “largescale destruction of evidence to impede the investigation”.

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The agency made this claim stating that major evidence in this case was stored on mobile phones and at least 36 accused persons in this case destroyed/used 170 mobile phones from the month of May to August 2022. The ED has in total recovered 17 phones, and even in that the data was deleted, the agency claimed.

The agency told the court that the “magnitude of destruction is such that most suspects, liquor barons, senior government officials, excise minister of Delhi (Sisodia) and other suspects have changed their phones multiple times” and this amounted to a loss of a “whopping sum of Rs 1.38 crore”.

The agency submitted that Arora destroyed 11 mobile phones.

His custody was sought mainly on the grounds that he was a “key conspirator in the criminal conspiracy and was instrumental in achieving cartelisation between key components of the said liquor policy”.

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The agency alleged that he “facilitated the transfer of bribe of Rs 2.5 crore which was a 6 per cent kickback” given to AAP communications chief Vijay Nair. He is also accused of giving a bribe of Rs 1 crore to excise officials.

The ED claimed that under the influence and direct intervention of Sisodia, Arora got approval to shift one of his shops and submitted that he got a lucrative airport L-7 licence.

They alleged that the accused was “instrumental in bringing political pressure of state government of Punjab in April-May 2022 in getting undue benefits by forcing other players who were not agreeing with the kickbacks to surrender their licences”.

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Advocate Ajit K Singh, who appeared for the accused, opposed the ED remand stating that he has “already been made to join investigation of this case by the IO on 22 occasions and, thus, he has already disclosed to the IO.”

“Whatever facts pertaining to this case were in his knowledge and now nothing is left to be disclosed further by him in relation to this case. The purpose of obtaining ED custody of the accused is only to harass and pressure him to make some confessional statements to achieve the illegal objectives of the investigating agency,” Singh argued.

First published on: 30-11-2022 at 19:24 IST
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