Delhi Excise Policy Case: BRS MLC K Kavitha Moves SC Challenging Her Arrest

K Kavitha

Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLC K Kavitha on Monday has moved the Supreme Court challenging her arrest in a money-laundering case related to the Delhi excise policy irregularities matter.

Kavitha got arrested by the ED team on last Friday in Hyderabad and later brought to Delhi. Kavitha was arrested after a day-long questioning followed by a raid at her residence.

Earlier on March 16, the Rouse Avenue Court sent Kavitha to custodial remand until March 23, 2024.

K. Kavitha was produced in the courtroom under heavy security in the presence of a number of lawyers, media persons and party workers.

Senior Advocate Vikram Chaudhari, along with Advocate Nitesh Rana, appeared for the K Kavitha before the court. Advocates Wajeeh Shafiq, Anuj Tiwari and Deepak Nagar also appeared for accused K Kavitha in the matter.

However, Special ED Counsel Zoheb Hossain and Special Public Prosecutor Naveen Kumar Matta appeared for the ED.

Chaudhari argued that this arrest was a blatant abuse of power. They have clearly violated the Supreme Court orders, which have protected us. He stated that, as per the law, there is a stay on her arrest until March 19.

He also added that the vindictiveness and malafide on the part of the ED are further writ large from the fact that despite the pendency of the issue/prayer before the apex court that the mobile phones of the petitioner couldn’t have been seized, leading to invasion of the right to privacy, the officers have gone ahead and at the time of the purported search on March 15, 2024.

ED further argued, that it is an admitted position that there is no written interim order in their favour. The statement that we gave was that we would give 10 days before issuing a summons. If there’s a prayer for no coercive action, and until there is an explicit order, you can’t presume an interim order. There is no dispute between parties that the undertaking was never that no coercive would be taken against the petitioner.

In the arrest order, the concerned ED investigation officer stated, “I believe that Kalvakuntla Kavitha, w/o DR Anil Kumar, residing in Hyderabad, Telengana-500034, has been guilty of an offence punishable under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (15 of 2003).”

“Now, therefore, in the exercise of the power conferred upon me under subsection (1) of Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (915 of 2003), I hereby arrest the said Kalvakuntla Kavitha at 05.20 pm on 15.03.2024 and she has been informed of the grounds for her arrest. A copy of the grounds of arrest (containing 14 pages) has been served upon her.”

The action comes almost 2 months after the ED issued a summons to the 45-year-old daughter of former Telangana CM and BRS chief K Chandrashekhar Rao.

She was questioned 3 times in this case last year and the central agency recorded her statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The BRS MLC has asserted in the past that she had done nothing wrong and alleged that the BJP-led central government was “using” the ED as the BJP couldn’t gain “backdoor entry” into Telangana.

Earlier, the Central Bureau of Investigation had also questioned Kavitha in this case. The ED case of money laundering was filed with cognizance of the CBI FIR.

According to ED, Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandra Pillai, who was arrested last year in the case, “is one of the key persons in the entire scam involving payments of huge kickbacks and formation of the biggest cartel of the South Group.”

The probe agency stated that, Pillai, along with his associates, was allegedly coordinating with various persons to execute the political understanding between the South Group and a leader of the Aam Aadmi Party.

ED has filed its first chargesheet in the case. The agency stated it has so far undertaken nearly 200 search operations in this case after filing an FIR taking cognizance of a CBI case that was registered on the recommendation of the Delhi Lieutenant Governor.

The officials stated that, the CBI inquiry was recommended based on the findings of the Delhi Chief Secretary’s report filed in July showing prima facie violations of the GNCTD Act 1991, Transaction of Business Rules-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009, and Delhi Excise Rules-2010.

The ED & CBI alleged that irregularities were committed while modifying the excise policy, undue favours were extended to licence holders, the licence fee was waived or reduced and the L-1 licence was extended without the competent authority’s approval.

Furthermore, the probe agencies stated that, he beneficiaries diverted “illegal” gains to the accused officials and made false entries in their books of account to evade detection.

As per the allegations, the Excise Department decided to refund the earnest money deposit of about Rs.30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules.

The probe agency stated and there was an alleged loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer, even though there was no enabling provision, a waiver on tendered licence fees was allowed from December 28, 2021, to January 27, 2022, due to COVID-19.

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About the Author: Meera Verma