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Monday, March 27, 2023

Kavitha does not appear before ED citing ill health and SC hearing

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Soma Bharat Kumar, an authorised representative of BRS leader K Kavitha, at the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in New Delhi on Thursday.
| Photo Credit: PTI

On a day of high drama in New Delhi, BRS MLC K. Kavitha skipped the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons for appearance in connection with the Delhi excise policy money laundering case citing her pending plea before the Supreme Court, where she has sought protection from arrest and quashing of summons in the case.

Following her failure to turn up at the ED office, officials issued fresh summons for March 20. This follows her authorised representative Soma Bharat visiting the ED office in New Delhi on Thursday morning to present a six-page representation on her behalf. She had sent the letter along with her bank statement, personal and business details.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court, after hearing her petition seeking protection from arrest and challenging the summons by the ED in this case, posted the case to March 24 following the plea by Kavitha. The Telangana Chief Minister’s daughter was first questioned in this case on March 11 following which she was asked to depose again on March 16.

In the letter sent to the ED, Kavitha said as the summons explicitly do not require her to appear in person, she was sending her “authorised representative”. “I humbly beseech your good self that the proceedings before the Supreme Court being sacred and sacrosanct, the outcome thereof must be awaited before any further proceedings take place with respect to the subject summons,” she wrote.

Ahead of her appearance before the ED on Thursday , at least half a dozen Telangana Ministers including her brother K. T. Rama Rao had reached New Delhi. Tension was palpable in the air and outside the Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s residence with presence of a large number of BRS activists and police personnel. Mr. Kavitha had even scheduled a press conference before going to the ED office. The presser was cancelled without citing any reasons.

It may be mentioned here that during the nine hours she spent at the ED office on March 11, she was confronted with the statements made by Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandran Pillai, an arrested accused in the case who allegedly shares close ties with her, apart from those of few others involved in the case. The BRS MLC’s statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The ED has so far arrested 12 people in the case, including former Delhi deputy chief minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia. The agency also recorded the fresh statement of Kavitha’s former auditor Butchibabu Gorantla on Wednesday in this case.

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 PTI)

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