The logical question is that when money is extracted through illegal means to carry on the electoral campaigns of political parties -then in the eventuality of such illegal money generation activities, not only the people involved in these criminal activities must be jailed but the concerned political party in whose name and whose members are involved in such activities, needs to be urgently brought to book. Serious action must be taken against such a political party by ordering it’s dissolution and banning it from any future elections, writes former IAS officer V.S.Pandey
The Delhi Excise Scam took a very serious turn on Monday after the Supreme Court rejected the bail plea of former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the Delhi excise scam case. The Supreme Court in its order said that the transfer of ₹338 crore in the scam is tentatively established. Therefore the court decided to dismiss Mr. Sisodia’s bail application. The Supreme Court order has torn apart the façade created by Mr. Arvind Kejariwal that it was a “fake” scam perpetuated by the central government as it feared the rising graph of Kejariwal and his party. He went on propagating the lie that no money trail could be found or established even after months of raids against a large number of persons including his senior party leaders like Mr. Sisodia, Mr. Sanjay Singh and others.
The investigating agencies have been accusing Mr. Sisodia, along with several high profile persons, of entering into an active conspiracy to make changes in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy of 2021 to benefit a group of liquor dealers from the south, referred to as the South Group, and causing a humungous loss to the exchequer of thousands of crores by increasing the profit margin of the liquor barons and drastically reducing the share of the government of Delhi, under the new regime.
Interestingly, the CBI has already filed chargesheets in connection with the crime registered under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act against the senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders and others including several business men and the trial is ongoing in the courts. In this, now infamous Delhi Excise scam, ED has claimed that hundreds of crores of kickback was paid by the beneficiary companies, and Mr. Sisodia in connivance with others helped them generate proceeds of crime by raising the profit margin from the existing 5% to 12% under the new policy. The transfer of amount of ₹338 crore which found mention in today’s Supreme Court order was part of the ED complaint against Sisodia.
Besides Sisodia, the AAP MP Sanjay Singh, was also arrested recently in connection with the alleged kickbacks- after three of the accused in the case turned approvers to support the ED case. The Supreme Court went even further during the hearing of Mr. Sisodia’s bail application and enquired if the ED sought to proceed against the AAP party as well as apparently the proceeds of this crime were alleged to have been utilised in the political campaign of the party, headed by Mr. Kejariwal.
Ironically on October 17, when the top court reserved orders, the court was informed that the ED was contemplating to make the Aam Aadmi Party as an accused in the case, under Section 70 of PMLA, which deals with offences by a company , that includes a firm or an association of persons.
This is a very important development as political parties in the name of carrying out political campaigns and contesting elections, which are extremely costly, are known to be collecting huge sums of money illegally and in the eventuality of any enquiry or investigations, rarely anybody is caught and prosecuted but the political party in whose name billions of rupees are collected by party leaders, always remains inviolate, untouched and carries on its political activities unhindered. The logical question is that when money is extracted through illegal means to carry on the electoral campaigns of political parties -then in the eventuality of such illegal money generation activities , not only the people involved in these criminal activities must be jailed but the concerned political party in whose name and whose members are involved in such activities, needs to be urgently brought to book. Serious action must be taken against such a political party by ordering it’s dissolution and banning it from any future elections, like is done for politicians who get convicted. In this sense , the current scam may finally end up instilling fear in the powerful political class who have gone berserk and brazenly violate every rule or law banning the role of black money in politics.
As far as the present Delhi Excise scam is concerned, an expeditious trial needs to be carried out ,as directed by the Supreme Court to punish those who connived to cause loss of huge sums to the public exchequer. In case the charges are proved in the court of law, the party also needs to be punished and banned from contesting future elections.
What about the lies perpetuated by Mr. Kejariwal and his cronies that kept propagating it as a fake scam? Are we living in an era where untruths, lies, deceitful actions have become the shortest road to success? Our political climate has become totally vitiated. The more a politician lies,the more he acts unethically and dishonestly, divides people on caste and religious lines, the more likely he is to succeed. This is an unfortunately tragic situation which needs to be corrected. Unless some drastic actions are taken collectively by the people , the dream of becoming a just , equitable, happy and prosperous nation will only remain a dream. Walking the ethical path is the only solution to get out of this morass.
(Vijay Shankar Pandey is former Secretary Government of India)