DC Edit | Targeting a CM: Uphold the law

The current investigation by CBI and ED into the Delhi excise liquor scam has been ongoing for a while

The tentacles of the Enforcement Directorate rarely reach chief ministers of states though the summons to appear served on the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is not exceptional. There may be clear political overtones to this as Opposition leaders have often pointed out about the misuse of Central investigating agencies by the ruling party against opponents.

It can, however, also be said, in the most general terms, that behind every liquor licensing procedure in every state in India, barring the ones that boast of Prohibition as in Gujarat and Bihar, there could be myriad scams and fortunes given away as kickbacks. Such is the nature of a trade in a commodity that invites very high levels of taxes, including a “sin” tax, but still has such huge margins as to provide scope for graft.

The point is the investigation having progressed to a point that a minister and the deputy chief minister of Delhi state were in jail, besides middlemen, for extended periods of time, and even leading to Mr Manish Sisodia resigning as deputy chief minister, can still take an interminable period of time before the fact is established that money was siphoned for a purpose, including, perhaps to fund an election, as is being alleged in this case.

The current investigation by CBI and ED into the Delhi excise liquor scam has been ongoing for a while. But only under the prompting of the Supreme Court, which pursued the line of reasoning that if corruption allegations are made against a political party why is that entity not made a party to the case in charge sheets, has the ED pointed the case in that direction and had involved Mr Kejriwal, too, who had previously been questioned only by the CBI.

The acceptance of the possibility of a money trail, as posited in court observations, is what lends a higher degree of interest to the investigation into the Delhi liquor vending process that was changed abruptly and then again in flip flop moves. But the court also revealed its scepticism by granting only three months for the case to take a proper trajectory lest it reconsider the matter of granting bail to Mr Sisodia.

The crux of the matter is that the investigating agencies must be able to present their cases properly for there to be an establishment of truth and guilt and resultant conviction since not even the high and mighty are exempted from the laws of the land. However, the use of the process as punishment of political opponents cannot be a standard operating procedure.

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