Excise policy scam: Delhi court denies interim bail to K Kavitha

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K. Kavitha addresses a press conference in New Delhi on March 9, 2023. Photo: PTI/Kamal Singh

New Delhi: A Delhi court here on Monday denied interim bail to BRS leader K Kavitha, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the Delhi excise policy-related money laundering case.

Special CBI judge Kaveri Baweja dismissed Kavitha's interim bail plea.

Kavitha was remanded to judicial custody till April 9 on March 26. She was arrested on the evening of March 15 by the ED hours after the agency and the Income Tax (IT) department conducted searches at her Hyderabad residence. Kavitha was then remanded to ED custody till March 23 which was extended further to three days.

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for K Kavitha had submitted the court is not “straight-jacketed” by the twin conditions for grant of bail under PMLA and is free to exercise discretion to grant the relief. Referring to Section 45 of PMLA and various judgments on the subject, Singhvi had said: “The basic principle of woman, rationale of legislature and discretion, all these things are preserved.”

Singhvi had prayed that Kavitha should be released on interim bail to be with her 16-year-old son whose exams are commencing the next month. He added that the perspective of a mother is not substitutable by the father or sister or brother or even “maasi.”

Opposing the interim bail, special counsel Zoheb Hossain representing ED had submitted that “woman” under the provision of Section 45 of PMLA cover those women who do not have agency and not the ones who are "leading politicians in the State.”

“The accused in question is one of the prime movers of giving bribes. She is part of arranging kickbacks in advance and is also a beneficiary through Indospirits. I am not relying on statements alone. I've material, WhatsApp documents etc. There is direct proceed of crimes through bank accounts, where she is a beneficiary,” Zoheb had said.

He added that Kavitha was involved in the destruction of evidence as she deleted contents and formatted her mobile phones before handing them over to ED.

As per the arrest memo, Kavitha, daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao and a Telangana Legislative Council member, was arrested by the central probe agency at 5.20 pm from her residence at Banjara Hills in Hyderabad.

On March 19, Kavitha withdrew her plea challenging the ED summons from the Supreme Court. Thereafter, the Apex Court issued notice on her plea challenging her arrest and asked the BRS leader to approach the trial court for bail.

In the earlier remand application, ED alleged that Kavitha is “one of the kingpins, a key conspirator and beneficiary” of the excise policy scam.

The agency alleged that Kavitha along with other members of the South Group namely Sarath Reddy, Raghav Magunta and Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, conspired with top Aam Aadmi Party leaders and gave them kickbacks to the tune of Rs. 100 Crore and in exchange, got undue favours in the formulation and implementation of the excise policy.

ED had also alleged that Kavitha orchestrated a deal with the Delhi Chief Minister and then Deputy Chief Minister, wherein she along with other members of the South Group paid them kickbacks through a string of intermediaries and middlemen.

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