SC Tags BRS Leader Kavitha's Petition Challenging ED Summons in Delhi Excise Policy Case with Pending Matters
The Supreme Court has decided to hear the plea of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha, who has sought protection from arrest and challenged the Enforcement Directorate's summons in a money laundering case related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. A bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M Trivedi has tagged Kavitha's plea with other similar cases, which will be heard in three weeks.
Kapil Sibal, a senior advocate representing Kavitha, informed the bench that Nalini Chidambaram, a senior advocate and wife of Congress leader P Chidambaram, has also filed a similar plea regarding the summoning of women accused by the Enforcement Directorate. The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju said that a three-judge bench had previously upheld the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which covers the provisions for summoning an accused.
The bench stated that it would be appropriate to hear all petitions together and listed the matter for a hearing in three weeks. Mehta requested permission to file a detailed note on the issue, which the bench allowed.
On March 15, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear Kavitha's plea seeking protection from arrest and challenging the summons issued by the ED. The BRS leader has denied all allegations against her. She was last quizzed for about 10 hours on March 21, which was her third day of deposition before the agency. Kavitha's statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that Kavitha and others were part of an alleged liquor cartel 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 for 2020-21. The agency has arrested 12 people in the case, including former Delhi deputy chief minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia.
The Delhi government's excise policy for 2021-22, which was meant to grant licenses to liquor traders, allowed cartelisation and favored certain dealers who had allegedly paid bribes for it, a charge strongly refuted by the AAP. The policy was subsequently scrapped, and the Delhi lieutenant governor recommended a CBI probe, following which the ED registered the case under the PMLA.