Bharat Rashtra Samiti leader K Kavitha on Thursday skipped the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons here for questioning in the Delhi excise policy money laundering case and made a plea to defer the proceedings but it was rejected by the probe agency which asked her to appear on March 20.
Kavitha, MLC and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, wrote to the ED saying it must wait for the outcome of her plea before the Supreme Court challenging the summons and seeking protection from arrest.
The apex court on Wednesday agreed to hear the plea on March 24.
The BRS leader, who was first questioned in this case by the ED on March 11 and asked to depose again on March 16, sent her 'authorised representative' Soma Bharat Kumar, general secretary of the BRS, in the morning with a six-page petition to the investigating officer stating she was skipping the March 16 summons as they explicitly does not require her to appear in person.
'I humbly beseech your good self that the proceedings before the Supreme Court being sacred and sacrosanct, the outcome thereof must be awaited before any further proceedings take place with respect to the subject summons.
'I once again request your good self that you may please defer the proceedings awaiting appropriate order(s) or direction(s) by the Hon'ble Supreme Court,' she wrote in the letter sent to the ED.
Sources in the ED said her plea was rejected in view of the ongoing investigations which is at an important phase including the requirement of her physical and document-based confrontation with other accused arrested/involved in the case.
Kavitha has been asked to appear on March 20, officials said.
In her letter, Kavitha spoke about her first deposition before the ED where she said she 'furnished all relevant information and answered all queries to the best of my knowledge, ability and understanding'.
Kavitha, however, expressed surprise and 'shock' that her phone was 'impounded' by the agency that day and she was not physically confronted with any arrested accused despite the agency's earlier 'categoric assertion' for the same.
She also wrote to the agency that being a woman she should not be called to the ED office for questioning but this exercise should either be conducted over a video link or the investigators can visit her residence for the same.
'I, therefore, have reasons to believe and a grave apprehension that the enquiry/investigation being carried out may not have the sanctity of law and my expectation of a free, fair, or impartial enquiry or investigation has been severely impaired,' she wrote.
Official sources had said that during the nine hours she spent at the ED office in Delhi on March 11, she was confronted with the statements made by Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramchandran Pillai, an arrested accused in the case who allegedly shares close ties with her, apart from those of few others involved in the case.
The BRS MLC's statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Kavitha has asserted that she had done nothing wrong and alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre was 'using' the ED as the saffron party could not gain a 'backdoor entry' in Telangana.
Pillai, the ED had said, 'represented the south group', an alleged liquor cartel linked to Kavitha and others that paid kickbacks amounting to about Rs 100 crore to the Aam Aadmi Party to gain a larger share of the market in the national capital under the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2020-21.
The 'south group', according to the ED, 'comprises' among others Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Pharma), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress MP from Ongole Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh), his son Raghav Magunta and Kavitha.
The ED also alleged in Pillai's remand papers that he 'represented the benami investments' of Kavitha in the excise policy case.
The BRS leader was earlier questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the case.
The ED has so far arrested 12 people in the case, including former Delhi deputy chief minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia.
It has also recorded the statement of Butchi Babu, an accountant allegedly linked to Kavitha, where he allegedly said 'there was political understanding between K Kavitha and the chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) and the deputy chief minister (Sisodia). In that process, K Kavitha also met Vijay Nair on March 19-20, 2021'.
Nair was arrested in the case by both the ED and the CBI. Butchi Babu has been arrested by the CBI.
According to Butchi Babu's statement, Nair was 'trying to impress Kavitha with what he could do in the (excise) policy'.
'Vijay Nair was acting on behalf of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia,' the statement recorded by the ED read.
It is alleged that the Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22 to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP.
The policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the PMLA.