Delhi excise policy case: BRS leader Kavitha appears before ED, surrenders phones to agency
This is the third deposition of Kavitha before the federal probe agency. She has spent around 18-19 hours at the ED headquarters in central Delhi during her two appearances on March 11 and March 20.
NEW DELHI: BRS leader K Kavitha, being investigated by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) for her role in the alleged Delhi Excise scam, handed over her phones to the agency on Tuesday along with a 2-page letter addressed to the investigating officer, stating that allegations made in the prosecution complaint filed in November 2022 that she destroyed some of her phones used in the past was a glaring act of malice.
Kavitha who appeared for the third time on Tuesday around 11.30 am submitted the letter stating that “in continuance and furtherance of my repeated appearances before you and rendering all due assistance and cooperation and despite the actions of the agency being ex-facie malafide I am today submitting before your good self all the earlier phones that I may have used in the past and as sought by you which I could gather.”
Although she is reported to have submitted around 10 phones, the number of phones submitted was however not mentioned in the letter.
She further said, "I may take this opportunity to point out a glaring act of malice on part of the agency when it has chosen to make insinuations against me in the prosecution complaint filed qua some other accused in November 2022 alleging that certain phones stand destroyed. It is baffling to note how, why and under what circumstances the agency made such allegations when I was not even summoned or asked any questions whatsoever.”
Kavitha, who reached the ED office on Tuesday again, had left the office of the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi around 9. 15 pm on Monday evening after facing the sleuths of the agency for more than 10 hours in connection with the investigation of irregularities and money laundering of kickbacks in the alleged Delhi Excise scam.
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According to sources, the agency will continue questioning her today in connection with the allegations of her involvement in the scam, her associations with several accused named in the chargesheets, and her role in the South Group, which is alleged to have been the biggest beneficiary of the Delhi Excise scam, in which several liquor traders had benefitted and passed on parts the windfall gains to the AAP, as advance. The former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, also the excise minister of the AAP-run government then, had formulated, endorsed, and implemented the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22.
The ED besides confronting her with the accused - some of whom are in judicial custody - and the statements made by them about her involvement will also question her about the meeting she had with the accused named in the chargesheets so far in Delhi, during the relevant period when the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 was still under formulation.
The ED had been recording statements of Kavitha since March 11 to question her further on the statements made by the various accused, of her being a key member of the South Group of liquor traders which allegedly paid an advance of Rs 100 crore to secure favourable tweaks in the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 which was approved and implemented by ex-deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who was also the Excise Minister. The tweaks South Group secured allegedly led to massive cartelisation at multiple vending levels violating suggestions of the expert committee and led to generation of windfall benefit to the liquor traders through increased commissions, parts of which was allegedly paid back to AAP through various middlemen. Delhi government exchequer meanwhile had suffered an alleged loss of Rs 2873 crores in the wake of this excise policy.
After skipping summons on March 16, Kavitha appeared before the Directorate of enforcement to face the second round of questioning by the agency sleuths probing her involvement in the Delhi Excise scam in which she is alleged to be a beneficially of the tweaked policy which caused heavy losses to the Delhi Government
Kavitha who reported at the ED office around 10.30 am on Monday, had decided to stay away from appearing before the agency on March 16 citing that a petition challenging her questioning by the ED is pending before the Supreme Court.
The apex court listed the matter for 24 but did not pass any interim order restricting the ED from questioning her. The ED however filed a caveat in response to her petition at the SC requesting the apex court to hear its submission on the petition Kavitha, before passing any order.
Kavitha’s involvement in the alleged scam was alleged by various accused including accused Arun R 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 in collusion with the AAP’s points person Vijay Nair, that eventually benefitted politicians, middlemen, and liquor traders.
Pillai was the 32.5 percent owner of a business entity that was a major beneficiary of the alleged scam and Kavitha was allegedly a major stakeholder in that entity as per disclosure made by Pillai.
Kavitha’s questioning was of importance in the investigation with Sisodia and Pillai being in ED remand currently amidst new evidence, disclosure, and facts emerging in the case. Also, it was important from the point of view of Butchi Babu, another close aide of Pillai, being questioned by the ED over a marathon session on March 15.