BRS leader Kavitha sent to ED custody till March 23

The ED alleged that Kavitha was “one of the kingpins” of the Delhi excise policy scam, in which AAP leaders are alleged to have received Rs 100 crore as kickbacks in exchange for "undue favours".
Kavitha Kalvakuntla
Kavitha KalvakuntlaFile Photo/Facebook
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A day after BRS leader Kalvakuntla Kavitha, daughter of former Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in the alleged Delhi liquor scam case, a Delhi court remanded her to ED custody till March 23. The ED had sought custody of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC Kavitha for 10 days. In its application before the Delhi Rouse Avenue Court seeking Kavitha’s custody, ED called her “one of the kingpins, a key conspirator and beneficiary” of the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. It also accused Kavitha of giving false evidence when the ED previously recorded her statements, and claimed that she made “quite a political show” of bringing nine mobile phones for questioning. 

The ED was referring to an incident in March 2023, when Kavitha appeared for questioning in the case in Delhi. Responding to allegations that she had destroyed phones she had used during the period of the alleged scam, Kavitha got out of her car and displayed a plastic bag full of mobile phones to media cameras before entering the ED office. The ED also said that those phones were formatted and had no data on them. 

Kavitha is one among several individuals from the Telugu states whom the ED has referred to as the ‘South Group’ in the case. The ED has alleged that these individuals gave kickbacks worth about Rs 100 crore to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) through the party’s former communications in-charge Vijay Nair. This was done allegedly in exchange for “undue favours” in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi excise policy introduced in November 2021, and scrapped about eight months later.

Three of Kavitha’s co-accused – Hyderabad-based businessman and a director of Aurobindo Pharma Limited P Sarath Chandra Reddy, Ongole MP and former YSRCP leader Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy and his son Raghava, who are also accused of being part of the ‘South Group’, had turned approvers in the case last year. Sreenivasulu Reddy incidentally joined the TDP on March 16.

The ED in its application mentioned the statements of these three approvers to implicate Kavitha. According to ED, MP Sreenivasulu and his son Raghava said Kavitha asked them to arrange Rs 50 crore, as part of the total Rs 100 crore kickbacks allegedly given to AAP leaders. They purportedly told the ED that they eventually gave Rs 25 crore in cash, through other accused persons in the case, Abhishek Boinpally and Buchi Babu.

ED alleged that Kavitha orchestrated a deal with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and then Deputy CM and Excise Minister Manish Sisodia, “paying them kickbacks through a string of intermediaries and middlemen.” In exchange for the kickbacks, Kavitha “had access to the policy formulation and was offered provisions to ensure favourable position to her,” ED said.

Special Judge MK Nagpal of the Rouse Avenue Court pronounced the order on the probe agency’s application seeking 10 days remand of Kavitha. The agency had arrested Kavitha on March 15 after searches at her residence in Hyderabad.

Senior advocate Vikram Chaudhary appeared for the BRS leader and special counsel Zoheb Hossain for the ED. At the outset, Chaudhary accused the ED of flouting the Supreme Court’s directions, submitting that Kavitha's arrest is a blatant abuse of power and authority, and disregards the apex court’s September 2023 order.

In response, the ED said that it hasn't made any statement in any court, including the Supreme Court, that no coercive action will be taken against Kavitha, and contended that there is enough evidence and statements of witnesses against the arrested lawmaker in the matter. 

The agency also accused the BRS leader of destroying evidence and said that it has summoned her husband, Anil Kumar, and house help for March 18 for the extraction of digital data. "We are also summoning two other persons who gave statements against her to confront her," the ED said.

Kavitha has not appeared before the agency since October last year despite summons. Kavitha had also approached the Supreme Court, challenging the summoning of a woman by the ED to its office.

With IANS inputs

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