Delhi excise scam case: Court reserves order on cognisance of chargesheet against BRS MLC K Kavitha

Special Judge Kaveri Baweja reserved the order after taking note of the ED's claim that it has sufficient evidence to prosecute her.


Published May 21, 2024 | 7:18 PM Updated May 21, 2024 | 7:37 PM

Delhi liquor policy case: BRS leader K Kavitha summoned by ED for second time; appearance unconfirmed yet

A court in New Delhi is likely to pronounce on 31 May its order on whether to take cognisance of a supplementary chargesheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against BRS leader K Kavitha in an excise policy-linked money laundering case.

Special Judge for ED and CBI matters Kaveri Baweja reserved the order after taking note of the anti-money laundering agency’s claim that it has sufficient evidence to prosecute her.

The ED also asserted it has adequate evidence against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to prosecute him in the case.

The court fixed 28 May for considering the supplementary charge sheet filed against Kejriwal and his AAP.

Kejriwal is out on interim bail till 1 June following an order of the Supreme Court which permitted him to campaign in the Lok Sabha elections. It has directed him to surrender on 2 June and go back to jail.

The charge against Telangana MLC Kavitha, who is the daughter of former Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, is that she was one of the kingpins and key conspirators, and beneficiary of the tweaked Delhi liquor policy, which has since been scrapped.

Also Read: BRS chief KCR condemns Kejriwal’s arrest, calls it a ‘dark day’

Charges against Kavitha, arrest

The ED had alleged that Kavitha was one among those who are part of South Group which paid ₹100 crore in kickbacks to AAP for tweaking the liquor policy in such a way that it helped them reap undue benefits in the liquor business.

The probe agency arrested her at her Banjara Hills residence in Hyderabad on 15 March.

According to the CBI, the prominent names in the “South Group” include former YSRCP MP Magunta Srinuvasulu Reddy, his son Magunta Raghava Reddy, and Kavitha, daughter of BRS chief and former Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao.

Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramachandran Pillai was also arrested by the ED on the contention that he was among the three key representatives of Kavitha.

Two other representatives of Kavitha were said to be beauty salon chain owner Abhishek Boinpally and chartered accountant Butchibabu Gorantla.

The ED also mentioned the name of Hyderabad-based industrialist P Sharath Chandra Reddy in its second prosecution complaint filed in the court.

Apart from Sharath Chandra Reddy and Abhishek Boinpally, Vijay Nair of the AAP and Benoy Babu, an official of the liquor company Pernod Ricard, allegedly played a crucial role in the Delhi liquor scam.

The ED had questioned Butchibabu Gorantla to uncover details regarding the “South Group”. The main focus was on his association with Kavitha.

The ED interrogated Butchibabu after a special court for CBI cases in New Delhi granted the agency permission on 22 February, 2023, to question him for two days in connection with the case.

Also Read: Court allows Raghava Magunta to turn approver in corruption case

The alleged kickbacks

The investigation agency also said kickbacks were paid in advance to AAP leaders through Nair by the “South Group” as part of an agreement between them.

As against kickbacks that were paid, the “South Group” secured uninhibited access and undue favours, besides attaining stakes in established wholesale businesses and multiple retail zones over and above what was allowed in the policy, said the CBI charge sheet.

During its probe, the ED recorded the statement of Butchibabu, in which he said: “There was a political understanding between K Kavitha and the chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and deputy chief minister (Manish Sisodia). In that process, K Kavitha also met Vijay Nair on 19-20 March, 2021.”

Vijay Nair was said to be the key link between the “South Group” and the party in power in Delhi.

To recover the kickbacks, the partners of the “South Group” were given a 65 percent stake in Indospirit in collusion with Sameer Mahendru, the owner of the firm.

The ED also arrested Indospirit Managing Director Sameer Mahendru.

Also Read: SC issues notice to ED on Abhishek Boinpally’s plea on arrest legality

The partnership

The formation of the aforementioned partnership was directed by Nair on the assurance of giving the wholesale business of Pernod Richard to Indospirit, the investigative agency contended.

Dinesh Arora, a close associate of Vijay Nair, in his statement dated 1 October, 2022, revealed that the “South Group” was supposed to get its advance money back from three major wholesalers.

He too told the ED that IndoSpirits was an entity controlled by the “South Group”, therefore the recoverable money was directly in their control.

Dinesh Arora also revealed in his statement on 18 November, 2022, that Vijay Nair, through his interaction with Benoy Babu of Pernod Ricard, ensured that Pernod Ricard’s business was given to Indospirit in exchange for the ₹100 crore paid by the “South Group”.

In November 2022, the CBI filed a charge sheet at the Rouse Avenue District Court in Delhi listing seven persons — Vijay Nair, Abhishek Boinapally, Arun Ramachandra Pillai, Sameer Mahendru, Gautam Mootha, Kuldip Singh, and Narendra Singh — naming them as accused in the case.

Sreenivasulu Reddy, his son Raghava Reddy, Sharath Chandra Reddy, Buthcibabu Gorantla, and Dinesh Arora have turned approvers in the case.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)