Excise policy case: Delhi HC seeks ED’s response on K Kavitha’s bail plea | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Excise policy case: Delhi HC seeks ED’s response on K Kavitha’s bail plea

May 10, 2024 01:06 PM IST

Kavitha’s plea highlighted that the investigation that is being conducted by the ED is compromised and is not being carried out to find the untainted truth but to further political agenda.

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Friday sought a response from the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) on Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha’s plea seeking bail in the money laundering case in connection with the alleged irregularities in the Delhi liquor excise policy 2021-22.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha (File Photo)
Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha (File Photo)

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma of the high court issued a notice in Kavitha’s plea and scheduled the matter for May 24.

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Kavitha’s plea before the high court painted a picture that the members of the ruling party at the Centre have orchestrated a conspiracy against her with the active connivance of the ED despite there being no substance in the allegation of her involvement in the now-scrapped excise policy scam.

The plea highlighted that the investigation that is being conducted by the ED is compromised and is not being carried out to find the untainted truth but to further political agenda.

Kavitha approached the high court on Thursday after a trial court rejected her bail application on Monday. The court also extended her judicial custody in the ED case till May 14 and in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody till May 20.

Kavitha, the daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, was arrested by the ED on March 15 and subsequently remanded to CBI custody until March 23. The CBI then arrested her on April 11. 

The trial court ruled that there appeared to be a “prima facie” case indicating Kavitha’s involvement in the commission of the offence of money laundering in relation to the Delhi excise policy case.

“From the aforesaid statements, the involvement of the applicant in the acts of payment of kickbacks to government functionaries in order to gain illegal benefits in the Excise Policy 2021-22 formulation and implementation, prima facie appears to be made out. It further appears that the applicant was in charge of the share of Arun Pillai in M/s Indospirits and involved in the conspiracy of policy formulation, kickback scheme and the final profits generated/PoC laundered through M/s Indospirits,” special judge Kaveri Baweja noted.

The trial court also rejected Kavitha’s contention that the case against her was based on the statement of approvers, co-accusors and associates, which were unworthy of reliance and held that the question of credibility and reliability of the witnesses could only be tested during the trial.

During the high court’s hearing on Friday, Kavitha, represented by senior advocate Vikram Chaudhary, urged the court to expeditiously decide her application, saying that though she had directly approached the Supreme Court challenging her arrest, the top court declined to pass any interim relief and had given her liberty to file a bail application.

Chaudhary stressed that the top court had further directed the lower courts to expeditiously decide her bail applications. He said the probe agency had already responded to the BRS leader’s bail application before the trial court.

Countering Chaudhary’s contention with regards to the probe agency’s response before the trial court, the ED, represented by special counsel Zoheb Hussain, however, sought time to file a reply. 

“This is a new practice,” Zoheb said. 

Rebutting the court’s findings, Kavitha in her petition before the high court asserted that the ED is conducting a completely biased investigation and has been implicated based on certain statements of a few persons who have given incriminating statements against her.

She claimed that the trial court’s order had been passed based on “surmises and conjectures” and was “unreasonable” and urged the high court to intervene.

The BRS leader further alleged that the ED has been adopting highly coercive tactics and third-degree measures in connection with their purported probe and is eliciting false statements from other witnesses by threatening to place them and their family members under arrest. “The ED is not conducting a fair investigation in line with the procedural safeguards under the law and will go to any extent to further the political agenda of the party in power at the Centre,” the plea read.

The petition added that the “supposedly independent ED and the CBI are acting hand in glove with the members of the ruling party and with the sole image of tarnishing her reputation.

“The political masterminds are well aware that if the petitioner can be connected to the alleged scam, it will bring her, and by logical implication, her father, the erstwhile Hon’ble Chief Minister of Telangana, into disrepute. The political mileage gained from such actions was sought to be used in the state elections scheduled in 2023 and presently in the ongoing general elections. This is the sole and singular motive of the purported investigation. This is political propaganda at its shameful lowest, even by the not-so-high standards in Indian politics,” the plea read.

Kavitha was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on April 11, while she was lodged in Tihar Jail under judicial custody in the parallel case registered by the ED. She was arrested by the ED on March 15 in the money laundering case and was sent to judicial custody on March 26.

The agencies have alleged that Kavitha is one of the key persons involved in arranging and providing kickbacks of approximately 100 crore to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to get favourable provisions added to the now-scrapped policy.

The CBI had earlier on April 6 interrogated Kavitha in Tihar jail after obtaining permission from the court. However, according to the CBI, she did not give satisfactory replies to their questions and gave evasive answers despite being confronted with the evidence.

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