Delhi Excise Policy case: BRS leader K. Kavitha and businessman Arun Pillai appear before ED

Kavitha was summoned to join the probe on Thursday, but she wrote a letter seeking more time after which her questioning was postponed for Saturday

Delhi Excise Policy case: BRS leader K. Kavitha and businessman Arun Pillai appear before ED

NH Digital

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's daughter and BRS leader K. Kavitha and Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Pillai are being confronted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with its ongoing investigations into the Delhi Excise Policy scam.

Kavitha arrived at the federal agency's headquarters on APJ Abdul Kalam Road from her father's official residence on Tughlak Road, located about 1.5 kilometres away, around 11 am.

There was a heavy presence of Delhi Police and central paramilitary forces personnel for barricading the ED office even as the supporters of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader staged a protest on APJ Abdul Kalam Road.

The ED had asked Kavitha to depose on March 9, but she had sought a fresh date due to her scheduled daylong hunger strike here on Friday seeking the passage of the long-pending Women's Reservation Bill in the Budget Session of Parliament.

The BRS MLC has been called by the agency so that she can be confronted with Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandran Pillai, an alleged frontman of the "south group" who was arrested by the ED earlier this week.

The agency will also record Kavitha's statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Pillai is in ED custody effectively till March 12 (to be produced before a court again on March 13) and the agency had earlier said he "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 (AAP) 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 the Ongole Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh), his son Raghav Magunta, Kavitha and others.

The ED also alleged in Pillai's remand papers that he "represented the benami investments" of Kavitha in the case.

The BRS leader was earlier questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) 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 also 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 the ED and the CBI. Butchi Babu has been arrested by the 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 the behalf of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia," the statement recorded by the ED read.

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.

With inputs from agencies

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