Delhi excise scam: ED opposes Kavitha’s bail plea, says release would affect probe to unearth conspiracy

The ED contended that Kavitha is a "highly influential" individual and stands accused of having committed a grave economic offence.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 24, 2024 | 9:43 PMUpdatedMay 24, 2024 | 9:43 PM

BRS MLC K Kavitha.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday, 24 May opposed in the Delhi High Court the bail plea of BRS leader K Kavitha in a money laundering case linked to the alleged excise policy scam, saying her release would adversely affect further investigation to unearth the “deep-rooted, multi-layered conspiracy”.

The ED, in its reply to Kavitha’s bail plea, contended that the Telangana lawmaker is a “highly influential” individual and stands accused of having committed a grave economic offence. She has the potential to tamper with evidence and influence witnesses, it said.

“K Kavitha has conspired with other people and actively involved in payment of kickbacks to the tune of ₹100 crore and then in establishing the money laundering ecosystem, that is, M/s Indo Spirits through her proxy which generated proceeds of crime of ₹192.8 crore. By such acts, K Kavitha is involved in various processes and activities relating to proceeds of crime (POC) to the tune of ₹292.8 crore,” the probe agency said in its counter affidavit.

Also Read: Court reserves order on Kavitha’s plea against chargesheet

Arguments in the court

On Friday, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma heard part arguments advanced by Kavitha’s counsel and listed the matter for further proceedings on 27 May.

Kavitha has challenged the trial court’s 6 May order by which her bail applications in the CBI’s corruption case as well as the ED’s money laundering case were dismissed.

Kavitha’s lawyer submitted that out of the 50 accused in the excise matter, she is the lone woman, and urged the court to consider granting her bail as the law keeps women on a different pedestal.

In another plea filed by co-accused Arun Ramachandran Pillai, the CBI informed the high court that it is likely to file a charge sheet against Kavitha by the first week of June for her alleged role in the corruption case.

Hyderabad businessman Pillai has sought to set aside a trial court order dismissing his plea against the commencement of arguments on the charge till the conclusion of an investigation by the CBI.

ED points to evidence

Opposing Kavitha’s bail plea, the ED said there is ample evidence to link her to the offence of money laundering.

“Huge amounts of proceeds of crime have been found to be laundered and investigation to trace the proceeds of crime is ongoing. There exists a reasonable apprehension of crucial evidence being destroyed if she is enlarged on bail. Her release on bail would adversely affect further investigation to unearth the deep-rooted multi-layered conspiracy,” it said.

Elaborating on the alleged role of Kavitha, the ED said the statements of co-accused Arun Ramachandran Pillai, her alleged associate, revealed that he represented her interests in Indo Spirits which was formed as part of an understanding between AAP leaders and her that in exchange for payment of ₹100 crore to the Delhi’s ruling party she will get stakes in some wholesale companies.

“It is established that K Kavitha is the ultimate in-charge of the share of Arun Pillai in M/s Indo Spirits and was intrinsically involved in the conspiracy of policy formulation, conceptualisation of kickback scheme and the final profits generated/POC laundered through M/s Indo Spirits,” the ED said.

The agency claimed Kavitha actively destroyed digital evidence to conceal her role and involvement in the “scam” and, if released on bail, she will actively involve herself in destroying the evidence.

Also Read: ED files fresh charge sheet; names BRS MLC K Kavitha, 4 others

Kavitha’s alleged involvement

Kavitha is in judicial custody in the two cases lodged by the ED and the CBI in the alleged scam. She was represented by senior advocate Vikram Chaudhari and lawyer Nitesh Rana.

The “scam” pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22 which was later scrapped.

The ED arrested Kavitha (46) from her Banjara Hills residence in Hyderabad on 15 March. The CBI arrested her from Tihar jail.

In her bail plea in the ED case, the BRS MLC, daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, has said she has “nothing to do” with the excise policy and there is a criminal conspiracy against her “orchestrated by the ruling party at the Centre with the active connivance of the Enforcement Directorate”.

According to the ED, former AAP communication head Vijay Nair received kickbacks to the tune of ₹100 crore on behalf of AAP leaders from the “South Group” — as termed in the statements of various persons recorded during the investigation — to manipulate the Delhi excise policy to benefit them.

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.

(With PTI inputs)