Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

After ED action, CBI arrests BRS’s K Kavitha in Tihar jail

- Neeraj Chauhan letters@hindustant­imes.com

NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigat­ion (CBI) on Thursday arrested K Kavitha, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader and daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasek­har Rao, in its probe on corruption in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22. Kavitha was already in jail, in custody of the Enforcemen­t Directorat­e.

People familiar with the developmen­t said Kavitha was taken into custody around 12.40pm in Tihar under section 120 (criminal conspiracy) and section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. She will be produced before a special court on Friday morning. She had been lodged inside prison since March 26, after ED arrested her on March 15. “K Kavitha has been arrested under Prevention of Corruption Act as she was a key member in the South Group that gave ₹100 crore kickbacks to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders in the excise policy in lieu of L1 licences in Delhi,” said a CBI officer, who didn’t want to be named. A L1 licence allows wholesale distributi­on of liquor in Delhi. The South group allegedly got nine out of 32 licences.

Kavitha’s lawyer, Nitesh Rana, said, “CBI has not followed the procedure of arrest in the custody. Also, any permission taken from the court has not been made available to the accused or the counsel. The procedure to arrest my client is totally illegal.”

A key charge by both the agencies is that businessma­n Sameer Mahendru’s Indospirit­s Group controlled multiple retail zones in Delhi under this policy, and advance payment of kickbacks worth ₹100 crore to the AAP leaders by the so-called South Group of which Kavitha was a member. CBI and ED claim the South Group comprised YSR Congress member of Parliament, Magunta Srinivasul­u Reddy, his son Raghav Magunta, Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Group), K Kavitha, and Delhi-based businessma­n Sameer Mahendru. It was represente­d by Abhishek Boinpally, Arun Pillai and Butchibabu in meetings with Vijay Nair, a close aide of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and people in the liquor trade.

Raghav Magunta and Sarath Reddy have turned approver in the case. Their testimonie­s, recorded under section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), were cited as key evidence by the Enforcemen­t Directorat­e (ED) while arresting Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal last month.

Kejriwal’s plea against his arrest is expected to be listed before the Supreme Court on April 15. To gather evidence against Kavitha, agencies have banked on the statements of Butchibabu Gorantla, her former chartered accountant and Arun Ramchandra Pillai, who represente­d her interests during multiple meetings with Nair and others. While Butchibabu was arrested by the CBI in February 2023, Pillai was arrested by ED in March.

According to ED, Butchibabu, said: “There was a political understand­ing between K Kavitha and Delhi CM and (former) deputy CM (Manish Sisodia) of Delhi. In that process, K Kavitha has also met Vijay Nair on 19th20th March, 2021”.

According to ED, Pillai, a Hyderabad based businessma­n, told ED on November 11, 2022, that “there was a deal/understand­ing between K Kavitha and the AAP wherein in exchange of kickbacks paid to the tune of ₹100 crore, K Kavitha got access to the Delhi liquor business”.

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