4th October 2023,Mumbai: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Member of Parliament Sanjay Singh found himself in the clutches of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) as they arrested him following a series of searches at his residence. The ED’s actions were part of a money laundering probe into alleged irregularities surrounding the Delhi excise policy of 2021-22.
Allegations Against Sanjay Singh
The ED’s primary allegation against Sanjay Singh is that he played a pivotal role in formulating and implementing the now-defunct excise policy, which reportedly favored specific liquor manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. The arrest follows an earlier chargesheet filed against ex-deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, where it was revealed that restaurateur Dinesh Arora shared close ties with both Singh and Sisodia.
Dinesh Arora’s Involvement
Dinesh Arora, a key figure in this case, was arrested by the ED in July. The agency claims that he played a significant role in the alleged irregularities. In 2020, Arora received a call from Sanjay Singh, the AAP MP, purportedly indicating the party’s need for funds with the upcoming Delhi assembly elections in mind.
AAP’s Initial Response
Before the arrest, the AAP had strongly protested against the ED’s searches at Sanjay Singh’s residence. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal dismissed the allegations, stating, “They have been probing the alleged liquor scam for the last year but nothing has been found yet. Nothing will be found at Sanjay Singh’s residence. When someone is staring at defeat, they resort to desperate measures. That is what is happening right now.”
In contrast, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) labeled Arvind Kejriwal as the ‘kingpin’ in the case. According to BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia, “The public of the nation and Delhi has understood that if there’s a kingpin in the Liquor scam it is Arvind Kejriwal on whose indications the Liquor scam in Delhi took place. The accused Dinesh Arora who is a businessman has accepted that at Delhi CM’s residence, the meeting was held.”
Alleged Money Transactions
Gaurav Bhatia further alleged, “On the indication of Arvind Kejriwal, Sanjay Singh said to ‘give ₹32 lakhs to the ‘Paapi AAP Arajak Apradh Party’. An MP does ‘vasooli’ sitting at the CM’s residence. The 32 lakh money was given through cheque. There could be crores of rupees and it has come across during the investigation.”
Legal Basis for Sanjay Singh’s Arrest
The Enforcement Directorate arrested Sanjay Singh under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, a stringent piece of legislation that deals with money laundering offenses. This suggests that the authorities believe that Singh’s involvement in the excise policy was connected to the movement of illicit funds.
This arrest and the ongoing probe have significant political ramifications. The AAP, known for its anti-corruption stance, is now embroiled in a high-profile case, which could tarnish its reputation. Conversely, the BJP, which has been in opposition to the AAP in Delhi, sees this as an opportunity to discredit the ruling party and its leadership.
The case has also divided public opinion. While AAP supporters believe this is a politically motivated move aimed at derailing the party’s success, the BJP’s supporters see it as a legitimate effort to expose corruption within the government.
Legal Process Ahead
Sanjay Singh’s arrest is just the beginning of a potentially lengthy legal process. The ED will need to present substantial evidence to prove its allegations of money laundering, and Singh will have the opportunity to defend himself in court.
The arrest of AAP MP Sanjay Singh by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy of 2021-22 has set the stage for a high-stakes political and legal battle. As the investigation unfolds and legal proceedings continue, the public will closely watch the developments in this case, which has significant implications for the political landscape in Delhi. It remains to be seen how this controversy will impact the credibility of the AAP and the BJP in the eyes of the electorate.
-by Kashvi Gala