In an ongoing battle of nerves, BRS MLC and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter Kavitha Kalvakuntla did not appear before the Enforcement Directoreate (ED) on Thursday, 16 March, which wanted to examine her in connection with the Delhi Liquor Policy scam.
The ED, for its part, seemed to have gone on backfoot as it issued a fresh notice to her to appear before its officials on 20 March.
The ED initially did not entertain her request to wait until her petition in the Supreme Court heard her petition on 24 March and insisted that she should appear on Thursday itself,
But it finally cut her some slack by giving her the new date, though she wanted the ED to initiate its next steps only after the Supreme Court gave its verdict on her petition for quashing the notice issued to her.
The ED had issued notice to her to appear for a second session of grilling in connection with her alleged role in what has come to be known as the Delhi Excise Policy scam that has been rocking the nation for quite some time now.
What Kavitha’s counsel said
Her advocate and BRS general secretary Soma Bharat Kumar, after making a representation to the investigative agency on behalf of Kavitha, told reporters outside the ED’s Pravartan Bhavan office on APJ Abdul Kalam Road in the national capital that she will not appear for questioning as the agency was violating rules pertaining to the questioning of women under Section 160 of the CRPC and 50 of PMLA.
“The ED rejected our representation, but Kavitha was within her legal rights not to appear before its officials at their office. We tried to make the ED understand the rules that apply to women when it comes to questioning them earlier and when they did not listen, we moved the Supreme Court on Wednesday,” he said.
In her representation, Kavitha said that ED may take on record the documents that she was sending with her representative, and if they wanted anything else in connection with the investigation, they may communicate it to her through her representative or send an email to her.
She also referred to her petition in the Supreme Court and requested the ED to wait for its outcome before taking any further steps.
While maintaining that she would cooperate with the law enforcement authorities, she said that it was, in fact, an obligation for her to honour the law of the land since she was not only a citizen of India but also a leader of women.
She drew the ED’s attention to how its officials had a “change of plans” when she inquired with them, in her recent questioning on 11 March, why she was not being quizzed in front of someone who is accused in the case.
This led her to believe that the investigation being carried out may not have the sanctity of law and that her expectation of free, fair and impartial inquiry was severely impaired.
The ED notice to Kavitha
The ED had issued notice to her to appear before its officials on Thursday for a second session of grilling in connection with her alleged role in what has come to be known as the Delhi Excise Policy scam that has been rocking the nation for quite some time now.
She was examined on 11 March, a day after a massive show of strength she had organised in the form of a day-long hunger strike at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, ostensibly to pressure the BJP dispensation at the Centre to introduce the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament.
According to sources, Kavitha was dodging appearing before the ED with the intention to skip facing the grilling questions from the ED.
As the three-day ED custody of Arun Ramachandra Pillai ends on Thursday, Kavita appears to be trying to avoid being questioned by the ED, based on what Arun Pillai would say in a face-to-face interrogation.
What happened on Thursday?
Early in the morning on Thursday, the BRS leaders sent out a message that Kavitha would speak to media persons at about 10 am, giving an impression that soon after she would leave for the ED office .
But the announced media briefing did not take place as Kavitha did not emerge from her father KCR’s residence on Tughlak Road in Delhi, barely a kilometre-and-a-half from the ED office.
Sources said that she sent a request for postponement of questioning since she was not well and sought to know if she could instead send over the documents the ED officials had asked for.
According to sources, the ED officials seem to have sent a message back to her that she would have to appear before them in person.
Kavitha’s petition in the Supreme Court
In her petition in the Supreme court on Wednesday, the BRS leader alleged that the ED was using coercive measures to extort confessions from the witnesses and suspects in the case.
She referred to how Arun Pillai had sought permission from Delhi Rouse Avenue Court to withdraw the statement that he had made to the ED. She said she apprehended that similar coercive methods would be used against her during questioning.
“This is evident from the treatment given to another witness E Chandan Reddy, who was brutally manhandled by ED officers. Reddy suffered substantial hearing loss due to manhandling. Reddy has filed a writ petition before Telangana High Court in this regard and the petition is pending,” she said.
She alleged that ED was threatening other witnesses and was taking statements that suited their investigation. The witnesses are being threatened that their family members would be arrested if they did not make the statement as they wanted.
She contended that there is no case against her, and she has been implicated on the basis of certain statements of a few persons.
Supreme Court hearing on 24 March
Kavitha had tried to obtain a stay order from the Supreme Court on the notice issued by the ED to appear before its officials on Thursday, but the court did not allow her request.
The apex court has, however, consented to hear arguments on her petition on 24 March.
Though Kavitha wants to push ED’s questioning to a date beyond 24 March, as she is hopeful of obtaining a stay order by then, the ED officials may not cut her that much slack.
The BRS leaders and Bharat Jagruthi activists were seen milling outside the chief minister’s residence in expression of solidarity with her in her “hour of crisis”.