The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday searched 31 locations, including the premises of Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, in connection with a case alleging irregularities in the State government’s now-withdrawn excise policy. The raids were conducted in Delhi, Gurugram, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Bengaluru. Mr. Sisodia is among the 15 accused named in the FIR. The CBI, which registered the case on a reference from the Union Home Ministry, has alleged that there were irregularities while modifying the Excise Policy; undue favours were extended to licence holders; licence fee was waived/reduced; and L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority’s approval. The illegal gains were diverted to the public servants concerned by private parties and false entries made in their books of accounts, the CBI alleged. The Excise Department had decided to refund the earnest money deposit of about ₹30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules, it said. Although there was no enabling provision, it allowed waiver on tendered licence fee due to the COVID-19 pandemic from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022, allegedly causing a loss of ₹144.36 crore to the exchequer, the FIR said. The FIR names then Excise Commissioner Arva Gopi Krishna, Deputy Commissioner Anand Tiwari, and Assistant Commissioner Pankaj Bhatnagar, besides 10 liquor licence holders and their associates. The agency alleged that Mr. Sisodia’s close associates — Dinesh Arora and Arjun Pandey of Buddy Retail — were actively involved in managing and diverting undue pecuniary benefits, collected from the licence holders, to public

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