A day after K Kavitha moved the Supreme Court against the March 16 summons by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Telangana MLC on Thursday decided not to appear for the second round of questioning in connection with the alleged Delhi excise policy case and instead sent Bharat Rashtra Samithi general secretary Soma Bharath Kumar with a six-page letter clarifying the reason behind her non-appearance.
The ED had asked the BRS MLC to appear before it on March 16.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected Kavitha’s plea for an urgent hearing on her petition, challenging the summons issued to her by the probe agency.
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“A bare glance at the summons issued by your good self (ED) for 16.03.2023, have not been asked to appear in person or through an authorized representative. Since your good self have not chosen to exercise the discretion for calling me in person, I am thus appearing through an authorised representative,” the letter sent to ED’s assistant director read.
Sharing her experience of the first summons, she told the ED in her letter that the “enquiry/investigation that was being carried out may not have the sanctity of law and that her expectation of a free, fair, or impartial inquiry or investigation had been severely impaired.”
Kavitha in her letter urged the ED to defer the interrogations as her plea before the Supreme Court challenging the summons by the central agencies was still pending and would be heard by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud only on March 24.
On Wednesday, she requested that the Supreme Court direct the ED authorities to question her at her residence and allow videography of her questioning from a visible distance.
The daughter of Telangana Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao claimed in her petition to the apex court that she was “not named in the FIR [first information report] and that the summons is in teeth of Section 160 CrPC which stipulates that no woman shall be required to attend as a witness at any place other than the place in which she resides.”
Kavitha previously too had urged the ED during her first summons to send in their representatives at home and not call her physically to the office, citing that it was a “woman’s constitutional right,” which was turned down by the ED.
The BRS MLC after her first summons had alleged to be subjected to “multiple illegalities” by the ED. In her plea to the apex court, she said that she was forced to produce her cell phone and was also made to wait for hours. She also alleged that the summons were part of a political conspiracy while calling the ED an extended arm of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Kavitha, 45, was questioned by the ED on March 12 for nine hours in its ongoing probe into the alleged money laundering in Delhi excise policy-related irregularities.
She was reportedly confronted with Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Pillai on 11 March who represented the South Group in the now-scrapped excise policy.
The ED has alleged that a part of a ₹100 crore “kickback” received by AAP’s communication in-charge Vijay Nair from a South Group on behalf of the AAP leaders was used for the Goa assembly elections campaign.
Pillai had reportedly told the ED that Kavitha was her associate, a blame the BRS MLC has denied. The ED has however claimed that Kavitha and Pillai were part of the South Group.
The federal anti-money laundering probe agency during the March 12 questioning had asked Kavitha about her alleged meeting with Nair, who met liquor businessmen and politicians at the time of policy formulation and implementation of the policy, her association with Sameer Mahendru’s Indospirits Group to control multiple retail zones in Delhi, and advance payment of kickbacks worth ₹100 crore allegedly paid to the AAP leaders by a South Group of which she was a member.
The BRS leader was confronted with the statements of Butchibabu Gorantla, her former chartered accountant (CA) and Pillai, who allegedly represented her interests during multiple meetings with Nair and others.
Arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in February, Butchibabu is currently out on bail.
Mahendru and Nair are both accused in the excise policy case that is being investigated by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Meanwhile, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia who is currently lodged in Tihar jail over the alleged excise policy case too was accused of favouring a South Group among other charges.