Kavitha appears before ED for questioning, BRS leadership apprehends arrest

The BRS leadership asked Kavitha to appear before ED as it does not want to give an impression that a top party leader is dodging the law.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Mar 20, 2023 | 8:49 AM Updated Mar 20, 2023 | 2:44 PM

K Kavitha, BRS MLC

BRS MLC and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter Kavitha Kalvakuntla appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday, 20 March, at its office in Delhi as summoned, for her alleged role in the Delhi Excise Policy scam.

South First has learnt that the BRS brass is of the belief that her arrest is imminent, if not today then sometime in the near future, but advised her to depose before the ED as it would make her appear as a law-abiding citizen.

Clad in a sea green saree, Kavitha stepped out of her car at about 10.30 am and entered the ED’s office. Before she went inside, her husband Anil gave her a hug in an expression of moral support. Kavitha did not appear flustered and was smiling back at supporters.

She is expected to be interrogated in the presence of Arun Ramachandra Pillai, who the ED had alleged was Kavitha’s front in the scam.

The ED has prepared the ground to grill her on the confessions Arun Pillai made in his statement before the ED — even though he has filed a petition in court seeking to withdraw that statement. Incidentally, Pillai’s custody ends on Monday.

Related: ‘ED forced witnesses to sign pre-dictated statements’

ED notice on Sunday night

The decision to go ahead and depose came after the ED issued a notice to her late Sunday night saying it cannot allow any further deferment of her appearance before them.

The ED apparently issued the fresh notice after making sure that Kavitha had left Hyderabad and landed in Delhi.

The ED’s notice to her is also understood to be in response to a second letter she sent to the agency after she skipped questioning on 16 March, in which she said she was open to questioning via video conferencing and also reiterating that the interrogation be deferred till after the Supreme Court heard her petition on 24 March.

The BRS MLC had, on 16 March, sent a letter through her emissary that since she is protected by law from appearing before the ED at their office since she was woman, she would not be able to comply with their summons.

Related: K Kavitha grilled by ED in Delhi liquor scam case

Decision to appear

The BRS MLC apparently was convinced that appearing before the ED would work more in her favour as a law-abiding citizen and not carry the taint that she was dodging the investigation as she had something to hide.

She reportedly took the decision after consulting her brother and IT minister KT Rama Rao and several legal experts.

Kavitha seems to have changed her tack and decided to cooperate with the ED apparently after all the options before her had exhausted. Even before she appeared before the ED on 16 March, she moved the Supreme Court, with a plea to prevent the ED from summoning her to its office.

Though the apex court did not give her any relief, it, however, admitted the petition and adjourned it to 24 March for hearing.

The ED, knowing the date of the Supreme Court hearing, issued a fresh notice to her on 16 March itself, communicating the next date of hearing as 20 March. The ED also filed a caveat in the apex court with a plea that it may not issue any orders without hearing the agency on 24 March.

Related: Kavitha no to ED till SC hears petition; ED issues fresh summons

Confabulations in Delhi

Ever since Kavitha left for Delhi by a special flight from Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad on Saturday evening, the mercury in the political barometer began shooting up.

After reaching KCR’s residence on Tughlaq Road in Delhi on Saturday night, Kavitha, KTR, her husband Anil, and legal experts spent considerable time debating on the pros and cons of not appearing before the ED and veered to the conclusion that it would be politically prudent to cooperate in the investigation.

The BRS took the decision in the wake of the going becoming suddenly rough for it in Telangana with the TSPSC question paper leakage.

It apparently did not want any more criticism that the party has become a law unto itself. The party reportedly came to the conclusion that this way it could wash off some of the taint that the Opposition parties are trying to smear it with.

ED questioning with Arun Pillai

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

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

According to sources, her examination by the ED is expected to get her reaction to the claims made by Arun Pillai in her presence. The ED also might use the inputs provided by former Delhi deputy chief minister of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Manish Sisodia, while questioning her.

Pillai was one among the three representatives of Kavitha in the so-called “South Group” comprising herself, YSRCP MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, and his son Raghava Magunta.

Two other alleged representatives of Kavitha are beauty salon chain owner Abhishek Boinpally and chartered accountant Gorantla Buchibabu. The ED has alleged that the South Group played a crucial role in formulating the liquor policy aimed at deriving more profit in the business.

After receiving a notice from ED, Srinivasulu Reddy was supposed to appear before it on Saturday, 19 March, but he did not turn up, requesting a fresh date to appear.

The ED has taken up the money laundering investigation into the case based on the FIR issued by the CBI.