The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on March 24 a plea by K Kavitha, Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, seeking protection from arrest and challenging the summons by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case arising out of the alleged Delhi excise policy scam.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha took note of the submissions by Kavitha, who is also a member of legislative council (MLC), and agreed to hear the plea on March 24.
On March 11, the 44-year-old BRS leader deposed before the ED to record her statement and was summoned again on March 16 for questioning.
“Can a woman be called to the office of the Enforcement Directorate?” her lawyer said while seeking an urgent hearing of the plea.
It is “completely against the law”, the lawyer said.
As per official sources, Kavitha, during the nine hours she spent at the ED office last week, was confronted with the statements made by Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandran Pillai, an accused arrested in the case, apart from those of a few others involved in the case.
Kavitha’s statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Pillai was arrested by the ED earlier. He has moved a city court accusing the ED of forging his statements.
The ED had said Pillai “represented the south group”, an alleged liquor cartel linked to Kavitha and others that paid kickbacks amounting to about Rs 100 crore to the Aam Aadmi Party to gain a larger share of the market in the national capital under the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2020-21.
The “south group”, according to the ED, comprises Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Pharma), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (YSR Congress MP from Ongole in Andhra Pradesh), his son Raghav Magunta, Kavitha and others.
The ED had also alleged in Pillai’s remand papers that he “represented the benami investments” of Kavitha, who has also been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the case.
The ED has so far arrested 12 people in the case, including former Delhi deputy chief minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia.
It has recorded the statement of Butchi Babu, a chartered accountant allegedly linked to Kavitha, where he said “there was political understanding between K Kavitha and the chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and the deputy chief minister (Sisodia). In that process, K Kavitha also met Vijay Nair on March 19-20, 2021.”
Nair was arrested in the case by both ED and CBI. Butchi Babu has been arrested by CBI.
According to Butchi Babu’s statement, Nair was “trying to impress Kavitha with what he could do in the (excise) policy”.
“Vijay Nair was acting on behalf of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia,” the statement recorded by the ED said.
It is alleged that the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.
The policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the PMLA.