Chandigarh: It appears that a sinister nexus between the liquor mafia and those occupying high offices in the BJP-JJP dispensation in Haryana is obstructing investigation into the liquor scam , the opposition Congress said on Saturday.
Congress’ national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged there was a liquor scam in the state during the COVID-triggered lockdown. Despite the closure of liquor vends and prohibition on sale of liquor, there were open instances of smuggling and liquor sale at exorbitant prices, he said.
The facts prima facie demonstrate a sinister nexus between the liquor mafia and those occupying high offices in the government that is obstructing the investigation into the liquor scam, Surjewala claimed.
Last month, the M L Khattar government in the state had set up a probe team to investigate the theft of liquor bottles from two godowns in Sonipat district.
The Congress leader said the government had constituted a Special Enquiry Team (SET) but it lacked powers as only a Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted under sections 2(h) and 2(o) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was empowered to conduct a comprehensive investigation by visiting every godown linked to the alleged scam, confiscate documents, conduct raids, check records of the Excise Department and the police, and arrest the culprits.
“The present special enquiry team has no such powers, he said, questioning if the government wanted to get to the bottom of the alleged scam.
On May 11, the government ordered SET to be constituted, which has no power to conduct investigation nor any power of confiscation of records or summoning witnesses or seizing record of excise and police department or arresting anybody.
Between May 11 and June 27, even this toothless SET has tried hard to peruse the record of the Department of Excise and Taxation in order to determine what kind of liquor scam happened, but the record has not been shown to them, the former Haryana minister said at an online press conference.
He further said an internal inquiry of the Excise and Taxation Department and the Committee of Deputy Commissioners appears to have revealed a shortage of nearly one crore liquor bottles. This is clearly a case of liquor smuggling and illegal sale of liquor when there was prohibition active in the state and nobody could open a liquor vend and sell liquor.
Liquor vends in Haryana had remained closed for 40 days when a nationwide COVID-19-triggered lockdown was imposed in March.
Same inquiry appears to have also revealed excess liquor available to the extent of 19 lakh liquor or beer bottles. The inference is clear, this is stolen liquor from one distillery or the other which has been taken out without payment of excise duty of the state,” Surjewala claimed.
All these incontrovertible facts point towards that there is a nexus between somebody higher up in the Khattar government and the liquor mafia. Who are they, it is for the chief minister to answer, he said.
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