Bharat Rashtra Samiti leader K Kavitha on Tuesday was quizzed for about 10 hours on the third day of her deposition before the Enforcement Directorate even as she submitted some mobile phones used by her to the agency in connection with the Delhi excise policy linked money laundering case.
The MLC daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao reached the ED office in central Delhi from the Tughlaq Road official residence of her father around 11.30 am and left shortly after 9.40 pm.
Before she entered the agency's office in New Delhi, Kavitha flashed some mobile phones kept in a transparent sheet, and said she was going to submit them to the ED.
The agency took the phones on record. However, sources indicated that they were 'wiped clean'.
In a letter written to the investigating officer of the case, the 44-year-old leader of the BRS said: "These phones are submitted without prejudice to my right and contentions and larger contentions whether a woman's phone can be intruded, in the teeth of her right to privacy."
Referring to the agency's allegation in its first charge sheet filed in this case last year that she was using at least two mobile numbers whose IMEI changed 10 times, Kavitha said, "It is baffling to note as to how, why and under what such circumstances the agency made such allegations when I was not even summoned or asked any questions whatsoever."
Accusing the ED of making insinuations against her, the BRS leader said she is submitting the phones to dispel any notion or 'adverse impression' that the agency is allegedly trying to create.
The 'deliberate leakage of the false accusation' to the public, she charged, has led to a political slugfest, wherein her political adversaries have been flaunting the accusations, to accuse her of destroying the so-called evidence and causing great harm to her reputation and attempting to defame her and her political party.
"It is unfortunate that a premier agency like the Enforcement Directorate is becoming privy and party to these acts and sabotaging and sacrificing its sacrosanct duty of free and fair investigation at the altar of vested political interest," she charged.
Tuesday's was the third deposition of Kavitha before the federal probe agency and she has spent a total of about 29 hours at the ED headquarters.
Sources indicated she was questioned and her statement was recorded as investigators put across around a dozen questions to her on Tuesday.
Kavitha is also understood to have been 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 politician 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' into 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 2021-22.
The 'South Group', according to the ED, comprises Sarath Reddy (promoter of Aurobindo Pharma), Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy (YSR Congress MP from Ongole Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh), his son Raghav Magunta, Kavitha and others.
The ED also alleged in Pillai's remand papers that he 'represented the benami investments' of Kavitha in the case.
Kavitha has earlier been questioned by the CBI in connection with the case at her residence in Hyderabad.
The ED has so far arrested 12 people in the case, including former Delhi deputy chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Manish Sisodia.
It has also recorded the statement of Butchibabu, an accountant allegedly linked to Kavitha, in which he said that 'there was political understanding between K Kavitha and 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. Butchibabu has been arrested by the CBI and has been questioned recently again by the ED.
According to Butchibabu'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 excise policy was subsequently scrapped and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).