CBI summons BRS leader K Kavitha on Feb 26 in Delhi excise policy probe | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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CBI summons BRS leader K Kavitha on Feb 26 in Delhi excise policy probe

Feb 21, 2024 09:04 PM IST

It has been alleged that Kavitha was in touch with AAP’s (AAP) then-communication in-charge Vijay Nair, who was meeting businessmen from the liquor industry and politicians at the time of policy formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped policy.

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has issued a summons to Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha, asking her to appear before it on February 26 in connection with its corruption probe in the Delhi excise policy 2021-22, people familiar with the development said on Wednesday.

K Kavitha, Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader and daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (File Photo)
K Kavitha, Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader and daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (File Photo)

Kavitha, the daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, was last questioned by the anti-corruption agency in December 2022, while the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is carrying out a parallel money laundering probe, questioned her in March 2023.

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

The agency is trying to unearth her role in influencing the policy, and her role alleged allegations of paying bribes.

It has been alleged that Kavitha was in touch with AAP’s (AAP) then-communication in-charge Vijay Nair, who was meeting businessmen from the liquor industry and politicians at the time of policy formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped policy.

The central probing agencies have claimed that Delhi-based businessman Sameer Mahendru’s Indospirits Group controlled multiple retail zones in Delhi under the excise policy and advanced payment of kickbacks worth Rs.100 crore to the AAP leaders by an alleged South Group of which Kavitha was a member.

ED has alleged that a part of the Rs.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), K Kavitha, and Mahendru. It was represented by Abhishek Boinpally, Arun Pillai and Butchibabu in meetings with Nair and other liquor businessmen.

During her questioning with ED in March last year, she was confronted with the statements of Butchibabu Gorantla, her former chartered accountant and 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.

Butchibabu, in his statement recorded before the ED officials in February 2023 stated that “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 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 the payment of bribe money on behalf of South Group.

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 license fee 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, came to an abrupt end, with Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar 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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