Excise policy scam: BRS leader Kavitha arrested in Hyderabad

Enforcement Directorate had claimed Kavitha was linked to a "South Group" lobby of liquor traders

BRS leader K Kavitha (photo: @MumbaichaDon/X)
BRS leader K Kavitha (photo: @MumbaichaDon/X)


The Enforcement Directorate on Friday, 15 March, arrested BRS leader K Kavitha after a daylong raid at her premises in Hyderabad and was taking her to Delhi for questioning in a money laundering case linked to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy, agency sources said.

Kavitha, 46, a Telangana Legislative Council member, was arrested by the central probe agency at 5:20 pm from her residence at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad, according to the arrest memo. Her husband D R Anil Kumar was informed about her arrest, ED officials said.

Agency sources said the BRS leader was being brought to Delhi for questioning.

The arrest of Kavitha, the daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, came after a daylong raid by the ED at her premises in Hyderabad.

The ED questioned Kavitha thrice last year in this case and again summoned her this year but she did not depose citing a Supreme Court direction that allowed her protection from any coercive action.

Talking to reporters in Hyderabad, BRS leader and former Telangana minister Vemula Prashanth Reddy Kavitha was being taken to Delhi on a 8.45 pm flight.

He alleged that the move was "pre-planned" and said they would protest against it.

BRS working president K T Rama Rao, former minister Harish Rao and a large number of party workers gathered at Kavitha's residence and raised slogans.

Meanwhile, a video was shared by the BRS showing Kavitha's brother and party working president K T Rama Rao arguing with the ED officials, saying the agency has violated an undertaking given to the Supreme Court.

"You are in serious trouble," he was heard telling the officials in the video, which went viral.

In the video he also alleged that the family members were not allowed to enter the house even after the searches were concluded.

"Search is over and an arrest warrant is produced and now she (ED official) says you cannot come in. Family cannot come in and she also says they have no transit warrant and cannot produce before a magistrate, but she wants to make a case,” he said.

Reacting to her arrest, Union minister for tourism G Kishan Reddy told reporters that ED raids are part of its inquiry into the case.

"She was also avoiding questioning by the ED by showing some reasons. If she's not guilty and not involved in the liquor case, Kavitha needs to appear before the ED or CBI to prove her innocence," Reddy said.

The Enforcement Directorate had claimed Kavitha was linked to a "South Group" lobby of liquor traders who were trying to play a larger role under the now scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.

It alleged that one of the accused in the case, Vijay Nair, received kickbacks to the tune of at least Rs 100 crore on behalf of AAP leaders from the "South Group", allegedly controlled by Sarath Reddy, Kavitha and Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy.

In the last round of questioning by the ED, officials said, Kavitha was confronted with Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandran Pillai, who was arrested in the case earlier and allegedly shared close ties with her.

Kavitha has then asserted that she had done nothing wrong and alleged that the Centre was "using" the ED as the BJP could not gain a "backdoor entry" into Telangana.

The "South Group", according to the ED, comprises Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Pharma), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (YSR Congress MP from 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.

Kavitha was earlier questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the case at her residence in Hyderabad.

The ED also recorded the statement of Butchibabu, an accountant allegedly linked to Kavitha.

According to the ED, the accountant said that "there was political understanding between K Kavitha and (Delhi) chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and (then Delhi) deputy chief minister (Manish Sisodia). In that process, K Kavitha also met Vijay Nair on 19-20 March, 2021".

Nair was arrested in the case by both the ED and the CBI.

The agency alleged 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 Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

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Published: 15 Mar 2024, 7:25 PM