Delhi 'Excise Scam': ED gets more time to quiz Pillai in wake of fresh facts, delay by Butchi Babu
Pillai had sought to retract two of his statements made during questioning sessions in November last year citing that “it was recorded under coercion”.
The Directorate of Enforcement on Monday secured a 3-day extension from a Special PMLA Court at Rouse Avenue Delhi, to interrogate Arun Pillai, the Hyderabad-based businessman and the representative of the South group of Liquor Traders, who was a direct beneficiary of the kickbacks from the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 scam and was also involved in affecting tweaks in the policy that eventually benefitted politicians, middlemen, and liquor traders.
The ED sought more time in the wake of fresh disclosures made by Pillai during his custodial interrogation, which the agency said was crucial and was in the process of corroborating and confirming with the sources and entities mentioned by the accused.
Also, Butchi Babu, alleged to be a close accomplice of Pillai, has been summoned for questioning on March 15 and was also required to be confronted with the accused in custody. Babu was summoned on March 9 but sought a postponement on health grounds.
Meanwhile, Pillai also is facing a set of questions following the deposition of BRS leader K Kavitha, also the daughter of Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao. Kavitha who is alleged to be a key member of the South Group of liquor traders, instrumental in influencing the Delhi Excise Policy and benefitting from the alterations, has been called again on March 16 to face more questions.
Delhi’s ex-chief minister Manish Sisodia, who has been charged with tweaking the policy to favour the South Group, compromising the interest of Delhi exchequer, is also being interrogated by the ED in custody at present. Among other aspects, Sisodia is being questioned with regards to the Rs 100 cr advance allegedly received as a bribe from the South Group by middlemen on behalf of AAP to make favourable changes in the Delhi Excise Policy endorsed and enforced by him. All accused are expected to be confronted with Kavitha in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the ED has opposed the plea filed by Pillai to retract from a couple of statements made before it under Section 50 of the PMLA 2002. The agency submitted that the statements are being recorded since September 2022 and it was quite absurd that the accused chose to retract from it after so many months. The ED submitted that given the circumstance and timing of the application for retractions, it's quite evident that the accused is under pressure to retract his statement made earlier.
Pillai statements were recorded on 11 occasions between 18 September 2022 and 6 March 2023 before he was arrested in the case. He had moved an application on March 9 2023 seeking to retract from two of his statements made during two of the questioning sessions in November last year citing “it was recorded under coercion”.
The date of application also coincided with the date when K Kavitha was summoned by the ED. She however sought an alternate date citing his prefixed political engagement in which she was holding a demonstration at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar seeking early introduction and passage of the Women’s Reservations Bill by the ruling BJP-led Government at the centre.