Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Monday alleged that a CBI officer ended his life because of pressure to frame him in a false excise case and demanded an "independent judicial" probe into the death. The federal agency dismissed the charge as "mischievous and misleading".
Sisodia's accusation came as he faced a fresh salvo from the BJP on the excise policy row, with the party releasing a "sting operation" video that purportedly showed the father of a liquor scam accused claiming to have paid "commission" to acquire liquor licences in Delhi. Sisodia, however, called the video a "joke".
In a statement, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said its officer Jitendra Kumar was in "no way connected" with the probe related to the excise policy case and Sisodia's statements were "an attempt to divert attention from the ongoing investigation" in the matter.
The agency also made it clear that "'no clean chit" has been given to any of the accused in the Delhi excise policy case. AAP leaders have been repeatedly stating that Sisodia had been given a "clean chit'' by the CBI officers investigating the alleged irregularities in the liquor policy.
However, Sisodia, who is among the 13 accused in the alleged corruption case related to the 2021-22 excise policy, maintained that Kumar was the law officer dealing with the case and demanded a judicial inquiry by a retired Supreme Court judge into his death.
On September 1, Kumar's body was found hanging at his south Delhi residence. The Delhi Police said a suicide note had also been recovered in which he had said that no one was responsible for his extreme decision.
"I came to know that he (Kumar) was being pressured to approve my arrest by making the fake case legally sound against me. He was under such pressure that he suffered from mental tension and died by suicide," Sisodia alleged at a press conference.
He said he wanted to ask the prime minister why officers "are being pressured so much that they are forced to take such extreme steps".
"Arrest me if you want, but don't destroy the families of your officers," he added.
The deputy chief minister hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that he only thinks of destabilising non-BJP governments by poaching MLAs.
Meanwhile, at a press conference, BJP leaders released the video featuring Kulvinder Marwah, the father of Sunny Marwah who is the accused number 13 in the liquor scam case.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sambit Patra, along with Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta and Lok Sabha member Manoj Tiwari, claimed the "sting operation" exposed the "corruption" of AAP leaders and demanded the sacking of Sisodia.
"The modus operandi as revealed in the video is that 80 per cent of the profit will go to (Chief Minister Arvind) Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and their friends.
"First, you give us our 80-per cent commission and then sell the 20 per cent however you can, we do not care. This has been the policy of Kejriwal," Patra told reporters here.
"It is an open-and-shut case because Marwahji himself is admitting all these in this video," he said.
The BJP leader said more such videos will come out in the future and appealed to all liquor contractors to come forward and expose the "corruption" without fear.
"We asked Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia five questions regarding the new excise policy. However, the questions remain unanswered and therefore, we have come here to expose them through a sting operation," Patra added.
The CBI had raided Sisodia's residence here last month after it registered an FIR to probe alleged irregularities in the formulation and execution of the Delhi Excise Policy brought out in November last year.
"The CBI has given me a clean chit as it did not get anything and that is why the BJP is coming up with these tactics. This is not a sting operation, this is just a joke," Sisodia said on the allegations of the saffron party.
The CBI refuted Sisodia's claims about Kumar's death and said they were "an attempt to divert attention from the ongoing investigation in the Delhi Excise Policy case".
"The CBI strongly refutes this mischievous and misleading statement by Sisodia. It is clarified that the gentleman officer, Late Jitendra Kumar, was in no way connected with the investigation of this case.
"He was Deputy Legal Advisor in-charge of prosecution, in which capacity he was supervising prosecutors who are conducting the trial of already charge-sheeted cases in Delhi," the agency said.
Reacting to the agency's rebuttal, Sisodia tweeted, "'I agree that CBI officer Jitender Kumar was not an investigative officer. He was law officer dealing wid my case. He was pressurized to create false story implicating me. He cud not bear the pressure n committed suicide (sic)."
"There should be an independent judicial enquiry - headed by a retired Supreme Court judge - into the causes of death of CBI Deputy Legal Advisor Late Jitendra Kumar."
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lashed out at the prime minister, accusing him of exerting "pressure" on CBI officials to arrest Sisodia "anyhow".
"So much pressure was built on Jitendra Kumar, who was the CBI's legal advisor in the case against Sisodia, for making a case for the issuance of an arrest warrant against the deputy chief minister that he could not bear it and died by suicide two days ago," AAP leader Atishi alleged.
She condoled Kumar's demise and assured his family members that the AAP stands by them.