A Delhi court on Monday sent Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s custody till March 4 in connection with the alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped excise policy of the state, Live Law reported.

Sisodia was arrested by the central agency on Sunday after around eight hours of interrogation.

At Monday’s hearing, the CBI sought a five-day custody for interrogating the minister, claiming that he was arrested after he gave evasive responses and did not cooperate despite being confronted with evidence.

Special CBI judge MK Nagpal accepted the agency’s request and ordered the authorities to produce Sisodia before the court on March 4 at 2 pm.

The excise policy 2021-’22, formulated on the basis of an expert committee report, came into effect in November 2021. Under it, licences of 849 liquor shops were were issued to private firms through open bidding. Earlier, four government corporations ran 475 liquor stores and the remaining 389 were private shops.

However, it was withdrawn by the Aam Aadmi Party-led government on July 30 after Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena recommended a CBI inquiry into the policy’s formulation and implementation.

Special Public Prosecutor Pankaj Gupta, representing the CBI, told Nagpal during Monday’s hearing that Sisodia had verbally directed the secretary to create a new Cabinet note to alter the excise policy, Bar and Bench reported.

“The profit margin was enhanced from 5% to 12%,” Gupta said. “He could not explain why the changes were made.”

But Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for Sisodia, claimed that profit margin changes were approved by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena. He also argued that the central agency wanted his client’s custody since he did not answer questions in the manner they wanted him to do.

Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party workers held protests across the country against the arrest of Sisodia.

In Delhi, several workers were detained on Monday after they clashed with paramilitary forces during a protest outside the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters.

The deputy chief minister, who holds 18 departments in the Delhi government, is the second Cabinet minister to be arrested by a central agency. Former Health Minister Satyendar Jain was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in May in a money laundering case.

On Monday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that Sisodia was arrested due to high political pressure.

“I am told that most CBI officers were against Manish’s arrest,” Kejriwal tweeted. “All of them have huge respect for him and there is no evidence against him. But the political pressure to arrest him was so high that they had to obey their political masters.”

Several leaders of the Opposition parties have also criticised Sisodia’s arrest.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said Sisodia’s arrest against the future of the children of Delhi.

“By arresting Manish Sisodia ji, who brought revolutionary changes in the field of education in Delhi, BJP has proved that it is not only against education but also against the future of the children of Delhi,” Yadav tweeted. “The people of Delhi will answer this by defeating the BJP in all the seven seats in the next Lok Sabha elections.”

Independent Assamese MLA Akhil Gogoi also demanded that Sisodia be released immediately.

“The arrests of political leaders by the CBI on the basis of fabricated evidences clearly exposes the barbaric character of BJP,” Gogoi tweeted. “BJP is the most corrupt party in India and by arresting the leaders of other parties for political vengeance only shows the hypocritical attitude of the party.”

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren called Sisodia’s arrest “another brazen attempt to attack and suppress voices of democratically elected state governments which are working hard for people especially the marginalised and their issues”.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury alleged that the BJP is weaponising central agencies to target Opposition leaders, destabilise elected governments and destroy democracy.