The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday issued a fresh summons to Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter and Bharat Rasthra Samithi (BRS) MLC K Kavitha to join its ongoing investigation in the Delhi excise policy case on March 20.
The federal agency issued the fresh summons as Kavitha refused to attend the ED interrogation on Thursday citing a pending petition in the Supreme Court. Kavitha did not appear for the third round of ED questioning conveying to the probe agency that the matter is still pending before the apex court.
According to the sources, Kavitha has sent the necessary documents sought by the probe agency through her legal representative.
The ED had summoned her earlier this month to appear before it on Thursday in the Delhi excise scam, alleging that she was a key member of the south cartel.
The BRS leader had approached the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing claiming that as a woman, she cannot be summoned to the ED office, and the probe agency’s representatives must visit her instead.
On Wednesday the Supreme Court had agreed to hear her plea challenging the ED summons on March 24 but refused to grant her interim relief.
The Apex court has agreed to hear her petition on March 24, in the Delhi excise policy case. Kavitha approached the Supreme court, saying as per norms a woman cannot be summoned for questioning before ED in office and her questioning should take place at her residence.
The advocate for Kavitha said that a woman is now being summoned by ED for questioning and that it is “completely against the law”.
Kavitha’s lawyer mentioned the plea before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and sought an urgent hearing on her petitions. The court agreed to list it on March 24.
As per sources, Kavitha will be confronted with Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandra Pillai, who was arrested on March 6 night in the case.
In its investigation, ED has come to know that Pillai is one of the key persons in the entire scam involving payments of huge kickbacks and the formation of the biggest cartel of the South Group.
South Group comprises Telangana MLC Kavitha, Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Group), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (MP, Ongole), his son Raghav Magunta, and others. The South Group was being represented by Pillai, Abhishek Boinpalli and Butchi Babu, the federal agency investigation has revealed.
Pillai along with his associates was coordinating with various persons to execute the political understanding between the South Group and a leader of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Pillai has been an accomplice and was involved in the kickbacks from the South Group and the recoupment of the same from the businesses in Delhi, ED investigation reveals.
The ED had earlier said that the South Group gave kickbacks of Rs 100 crore to AAP leaders.
Pillai is learnt to be a partner of 32.5 per cent in Indo Spirits, which had got an L1 licence. Indo Spirits is a partnership firm of Arun (32.5 per cent), Prem Rahul (32.5 per cent) and Indospirit Distribution Limited (35 per cent), wherein Arun and Prem Rahul represented the benami investments of Kavitha and Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy and his son Raghava Magunta.
Pillai is a partner in Indo Spirits. In this partnership firm, Pillai represented the interests of Kavitha.
Kavitha, who is a member of the Telangana Legislative Council, was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the same case in December last year.
ED, last year filed its first chargesheet in the case. The agency said it has so far undertaken nearly 200 search operations in this case after filing FIR after taking cognisance of a CBI case which was registered on the recommendation of the Delhi lieutenant governor.
The CBI inquiry was recommended 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 (ToBR)-1993, Delhi Excise Act-2009, and Delhi Excise Rules-2010, officials had said.
In October, the ED had raided nearly three dozen locations in Delhi and Punjab following the arrest of Sameer Mahendru, Managing Director of Delhi’s Jor Bagh-based liquor distributor Indospirit Group, in the case and arrested him later.
The CBI too filed its first charge sheet in the case early this week.
The ED and the CBI had 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. The 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 had decided to refund the Earnest Money Deposit of about Rs 30 crore to a successful tenderer against the set rules. 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.
This allegedly caused a loss of Rs 144.36 crore to the exchequer, which has been instituted on a reference from the Union Home Ministry following a recommendation from Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena.
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