No SC relief for Kavitha against ED summons in liquor policy case
The Supreme Court on Monday did not grant stay on summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to K. Kavitha, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
Kavitha had moved the apex court against her questioning and also sought protection from arrest by the ED regarding a money laundering case connected with alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Kavitha, submitted before a bench headed by Justice Ajay Rastogi that it is on the question whether she would have to be interrogated here or at her residence. Sibal added that summons were issued to his client for investigation.
The bench did not give any interim relief to her on protection from arrest or stayed the ED summons. However, the top court agreed to examine the legal point if a woman can be summoned to the ED office under CrPC/PMLA. The top court tagged it along with a similar plea filed by Nalini Chidambaram and Ruchira Banerjee, wife of Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed it saying that Abhishek Banerjee’s matter is different. Additional Solicitor General S.V. Raju, representing the ED, said summons have been issued and this petition is infructuous. However, the top court listed the matter after three weeks.
Kavitha’s plea said her name has not been mentioned in the FIR registered by the CBI in connection with alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi’s deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was also arrested by the CBI for alleged corruption in framing a new liquor policy, which was later withdrawn.
Kavitha’s counsel had previously told the court that she had appeared before the ED earlier this month but the repeated summons were contrary to law because the petitioner was a woman. “That despite the petitioner not being named in the FIR, certain members of the incumbent ruling political party at the Centre made scandalous statements linking the petitioner to the Delhi excise policy…,” said the plea.
Kavitha accused the ED of acting in “extremely shameful” manner and as per a “larger conspiracy orchestrated at the behest of the members of the incumbent ruling party at the Centre”.
The petitioner claimed the ED is eliciting false statements from other witnesses by threatening to place them and their family members under arrest.
“The petitioner believes that the investigation against her is nothing more than a fishing expedition being undertaken by the Enforcement Directorate solely at the behest of the incumbent ruling political party,” added the plea.
It further contended that the ED, in teeth of settled law, summoned her to appear before their offices in New Delhi and has confiscated her cellular phone without any written order for production of the phone.
The plea claimed that the petitioner apprehends that she would be physically and mentally coerced by the ED and stressed that there is no case against her.
The plea added that the only basis on which she has been implicated is on the basis of certain statements of a few persons who have given incriminating statements themselves as well as allegedly against her. Kavitha had earlier been questioned by the CBI in the case.
It has been alleged that Kavitha held benami investment in Indospiritis, a liquor firm involved in the scam. ED alleged Arun Ramchandran Pillai represented Kavitha in Indospirits.
The investigating agency has also alleged the South lobby, which included Kavitha, bribed the AAP government to formulate an excise policy to facilitate the companies to win the bids and to form a cartel and control the retail outlets in Delhi.