CBI summons BRS leader K Kavitha for questioning in excise case on February 26 | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times

CBI summons BRS leader K Kavitha for questioning in excise case on February 26

Feb 22, 2024 05:10 AM IST

The investigative agency wants to question her about certain facts related to the case in connection with its probe in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued summons to Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader and daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, K Kavitha, asking her to appear before it on February 26 in connection with its probe in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22, people familiar with the development said on Wednesday.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLC K Kavitha. (ANI)
Bharat Rashtra Samithi MLC K Kavitha. (ANI)

The investigative agency wants to question her about certain facts related to the case, they said. She was last questioned by the agency in December 2022 while the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is carrying out a parallel money laundering probe in the excise policy, questioned her in March 2023.

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Nitesh Rana, K Kavitha’s lawyer, refused to comment on the fresh CBI summons.

It has been alleged that the BRS leader was in touch with Aam Aadmi Party’s then communication in-charge Vijay Nair, who had been meeting liquor businessmen and politicians at the time of formulation and implementation of the controversial now-scrapped excise policy in the national capital.

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 made advance payment of kickbacks worth 100 crore to AAP leaders by an alleged South Group of which she was a member.

During her questioning by ED in March last year, she was confronted with the statements of Butchibabu Gorantla, her former chartered accountant and Arun Ramchandra Pillai, who represented her interests during multiple meetings with Nair and others. Butchibabu was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in February 2023, while Pillai was arrested by ED in March.

Butchibabu, in his statement recorded before ED officials in February 2023 stated, “There was a political understanding between K Kavitha and the chief minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal and (former) deputy CM Manish Sisodia of Delhi. In that process, K Kavitha has also met Vijay Nair on 19th-20th March, 2021”.

Pillai, according to investigators, represented the benami investments of Kavitha. He was allegedly actively involved in cartel formation and was an accomplice in payment of bribe money on behalf of South Group.

ED has alleged that a part of the 100 crore kickbacks generated in the Delhi excise policy was used in the AAP campaign in the 2022 Goa assembly election.

The South Group comprises YSR Congress MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, his son Raghav Magunta, Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Group), and K Kavitha, Delhi based businessman Sameer Mahendru. It was represented by Abhishek Boinpally, Arun Pillai and Butchibabu in meetings with Vijay Nair and other liquor businessmen.

The Delhi government’s 2021-22 excise policy aimed to revitalize the city’s flagging liquor business. It aimed to replace a sales-volume based regime with a licence fee one for traders, and promised swankier stores, free of the infamous metal grilles, ultimately giving customers a better buying experience. The policy also introduced discounts and offers on the purchase of liquor, a first for Delhi.

The plan, however, ended abruptly, with Delhi’s lieutenant governor VK Saxena recommending a probe into alleged irregularities in the regime. This ultimately resulted in the policy being scrapped prematurely and being replaced by the 2020-21 regime, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleging that Saxena’s predecessor sabotaged the move with a few last-minute changes that resulted in lower-than-expected revenues.

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