Delhi liquor scam: ED custody of Arun Pillai extended; agency may grill him with Kavitha on 16 March

Counsel representing the ED in court opposed Pillai's counsel’s request that an advocate accompany him during questioning.

BySouth First Desk

Published Mar 13, 2023 | 7:56 PMUpdatedMar 13, 2023 | 7:57 PM

The ED's custody of Arun Pillai has been extended till 20 March. (Twitter)

The Rouse Avenue Court in New Delhi on Monday, 13 March, extended the Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody of Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramachandran Pillai for three more days.

It gave an order to this effect while responding to a petition filed by the ED, which has already summoned Pillai 29 times and recorded his statement 11 times.

The court’s direction would enable the ED to question Kavitha once again when she appears before it on 16 March at its office in New Delhi.

This time, it could be in the presence of Pillai, who retracted his statement given to the ED a few days ago.

Pillai, Kavitha, and South Group

Pillai was arrested by the ED in connection with the Delhi liquor scam. He was among the three key representatives of BRS MLC K Kavitha, who also appeared before the ED on Saturday and was questioned for nine hours over her alleged involvement in the scam.

She was among the crucial members of the South Group, comprising YSRCP MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy and his son Raghav Reddy, and leading pharma company director Sarath Reddy.

Apart from Pillai, two other representatives of Kavitha are beauty salon chain owner Abhishek Boinpally and chartered accountant Gorantla Butchibabu.

Both Boinpally and Butchibabu have been arrested by the ED.

Also read: Kavitha’s role in liquor scam has rattled KCR and BRS: Tarun Chugh

Pillai and ED

Counsel who presented arguments on behalf of the ED opposed Pillai’s counsel’s request to the court that an advocate should accompany him during the questioning.

He clarified that the ED did not put any pressure on Pillai to record his statement.

Section 50 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) would not permit an advocate during the questioning, the ED’s advocate said.

He said the investigators had followed due process while recording Pillai’s statement.

With respect to Pillai’s questioning, the ED has surveillance camera footage and other evidence.

Pillai allegedly played a crucial role in paying kickbacks in the scam to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and he and Butchibabu were apparently part of the team that prepared the liquor policy.

“We know the reasons behind Pillai retracting his statement. He withdrew his statement when an influential person was summoned for questioning,” the ED’s advocate said.

After hearing the arguments, the court extended the ED’s custody of Pillai by three more days.

Meanwhile, the ED issued a notice to Butchibabu asking him to appear before it on 15 March for questioning.

Also read: Delhi liquor scam: Arun Pillai seeks to withdraw statement