Delhi liquor scam: ED quizzes Kavitha for 10 hrs in round-3, may question again next week

Like on Monday, the questioning turned out to be a marathon session, lasting for over 10 hours


NEW DELHI: Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC Kalvakuntla Kavitha was questioned, for the second straight day, on Tuesday by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) here in connection with the Delhi liquor policy scam case. Like on Monday, the questioning turned out to be a marathon session, lasting for over 10 hours. The BRS woman leader was quizzed on Monday for more than 10 hours.

During the course of Tuesday’s investigation, the ED team largely focussed its questioning on technical and electronic evidence based on the data available on the mobile phones submitted by the BRS MLC on Tuesday. According to sources, the ED is likely to summon Kavitha again for questioning sometime next week because of Ugadi, the festival marking the beginning of the Telugu new year and other factors. It is widely perceived that the financial probe agency would need more time to decode and analyse the technical data from the mobile phones. The BRS sources said that Kavitha had been told by the ED that she would be informed by email about the next date of questioning later Tuesday night.

BRS MLC Kavitha was questioned in a room on the third floor of the ED office on Tuesday. Around 7 pm, the legal team of Kavitha, led by Soma Bharath Kumar, arrived at the ED office, reportedly after being summoned by the investigating officials. Besides the legal team, BRS leader Devi Prasad also came down to the ED office. It was revealed later that Soma Bharath Kumar came to the ED office to furnish some documents as requisitioned by the investigators. Contrary to expectations, Soma Bharath Kumar spent close to two hours inside the ED office after submitting the material to the investigators.

In fact, the legal team descended at the ED office on Monday as well and it was considered to be a part of a routine procedure. The financial probe agency grilling Kavitha for the third time and for the second consecutive day sparked intense speculation throughout Tuesday on what was going to be the agency’s options further.

Tension prevailed for a while at the ED office as there was no sight of Kavitha coming out of the ED office even after 8:30 pm, giving the BRS leaders and followers some anxious moments. There were indications initially from inside that Kavitha would be coming out around 8:15 pm. In a subtle indication of this, the central forces deployed at KCR’s official residence in Delhi were also withdrawn around the same time. But despite that, Kavitha did not step out of the office even after 9 pm which kept the partymen on tenterhooks for a while.

Before entering the ED office on Tuesday morning, Kavitha showed to the media two pouches containing nine mobile phones which she had used in the last few years. She submitted those phones to the investigators as instructed by the ED. Her gesture was aimed at debunking the agency’s claims and insinuations that she had destroyed her phones to erase evidence in the Delhi liquor policy scam case.

She also wrote a letter in this connection to the Assistant Director of ED in which she called out the financial probe agency for malice and baseless insinuations against her which caused harm to her reputation in public. She wondered as to how the ED chose to make such an allegation in a prosecution complaint filed against another accused in November 2022 and wanted to know the basis for it when she was not even summoned or asked any questions.

Stating that she was served a notice for the first time in March, 2023, she felt that she had “no reasons to believe that the accusation made against her in November 2022 was not only mala fide and misconceived but also prejudicial.” While complying with the ED’s instructions, Kavitha also raised her right to privacy as a woman in submitting her phones.

What is ED’s option for Kavitha?

Now that Kalvakuntla Kavitha was questioned three times, how is the ED likely to proceed further against the BRS MLC? As legal experts felt, the ED may ideally wait for the Supreme Court’s directions when the latter hears Kavitha’s petition on March 24, 2023. According to Pattabhi, senior Supreme Court advocate, the ED has curtailed its own options to act freely in Kavitha’s case by filing an unprecedented caveat in the Supreme Court.

The ED has recently filed a caveat petition in the apex court urging the latter to also consider its arguments before giving any directions in the case. As the senior advocate analysed the scenario, now that it has filed the caveat, the ED should ideally weigh in the option of waiting till what the Supreme Court rules on Kavitha’s petition. In the event of it going for an extreme measure well before March 24, it would only amount to proving Kavitha’s accusations of harassment through an unfair investigation, Pattabhi felt while speaking in a section of the media.

The last known occasion of the ED opting for a Caveat petition in the Supreme Court was in the case of former Union Minister P Chidambaram in August 2019.

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