Excise case: Delhi court extends K Kavitha’s judicial custody till May 20

New Delhi, May 14 (PTI) A Delhi court on Tuesday extended the judicial custody of BRS leader K Kavitha, who has been arrested in a money laundering case related to alleged excise policy scam also involving Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, till May 20.

Special Judge for ED and CBI cases, Kaveri Baweja, passed the order after Kavitha was produced before the court on expiry of her judicial custody granted in the case earlier.

The judge, meanwhile, also reserved for May 20 the order on whether to take cognisance of a fresh charge sheet filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the case.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the central probe agency told the judge that there was sufficient evidence in the prosecution complaint, ED’s equivalent to a charge sheet, against Kavitha to put her on trial.

The ED on Friday filed the nearly 200-page prosecution complaint along with annexures under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Kavitha, an MLC of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) party, three employees of a company that handled AAP’s assembly election campaign in Goa (Chariot Productions Media Pvt Ltd) — Damodar Sharma, Prince Kumar and Chanpreet Singh — and a former employee of India Ahead news channel Arvind Singh have been named as accused in the latest charge sheet, sources said.

The federal agency had arrested 46-year-old Kavitha, the daughter of former Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, from her Banjara Hills residence in Hyderabad on March 15.

Chanpreet was arrested on April 15 and it was alleged by the agency that he “managed” cash funds for AAP’s Goa poll campaign in 2022.

The three Chariot Productions employees too were allegedly involved in the movement and handling of “bribe” funds paid by the ‘South Group’ through ‘Angadiyas’ and hawala route for the party’s Goa campaign, according to the agency.

Arvind Singh, the commercial head and production controller of India Ahead, was arrested by the CBI in this case in May last year for alleged transfer of funds considered “kickbacks” of this “scam”.

This is the seventh charge sheet filed by the ED in this case in which it has arrested 18 people so far, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was given interim bail by the Supreme Court on Friday.

The ED has alleged that Kavitha was a key member of the ‘South Group’ that has been accused of paying the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleged kickbacks of Rs 100 crore in return for a big share of liquor licences in the national capital, as part of the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy for 2021-22.

The agency earlier said Kavitha was “one of the kingpins, a key conspirator and beneficiary of the Delhi excise policy scam”.

The excise case pertains to alleged corruption and money laundering in the formulation and execution of the Delhi government’s excise policy for 2021-22.

Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena recommended a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities. Subsequently, the ED filed its money laundering case on August 22, 2022, taking cognisance of the CBI FIR that was lodged on August 17, 2022.

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