BRS Leader K Kavitha’s House Raided Over Delhi Liquor Policy Case

Kavitha was allegedly a member of the ‘South Group’, which played a key role in the scam.

New Delhi/Hyderabad:

The Enforcement Directorate has raided the house of BRS Leader K Kavitha in Hyderabad in connection with the Delhi liquor policy case. The action comes after the leader skipped several summons issued by the agency. 

Ms Kavitha is a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) in Telangana and is the daughter of Bharat Rashtra Samithi chief and former chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao. While she has been questioned in the case earlier, she has skipped at least two summons this year.

The ED has alleged that Ms Kavitha was part of the ‘South Group’, which played a key role in the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam. The other members of the group, according to the agency, were Hyderabad businessman Sarath Reddy, YSR Congress Party MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy and his son Raghav Magunta Reddy. Some of these men have turned approvers. 

The group was represented by businessmen Arun Pillai and Abhishek Boinpally, and a chartered accountant, Buchi Babu. 

Kickbacks, Proxy Ownership

The ED’s case is that the Delhi liquor policy 2021-22 provided an exceptionally high profit margin of 12% for wholesalers and nearly 185% for retailers. Of the 12%, six was to be recovered from wholesalers as kickbacks for AAP leaders and the South Group allegedly gave Rs 100 crore in advance to another accused, Vijay Nair, who was linked to the AAP. 

In exchange, Nair allegedly promised the South Group a stake in the Delhi liquor business, which it did not have access to until then. Officials said the group was allowed to hold more retail licences than were permitted under the policy, and was also given other undue benefits. 

One of the entities linked to the group was Indospirits, whose MD was Sameer Mahendru. Arun Pillai and Prem Rahul Manduri, another person linked to the group, had a 65% stake in the company, and Kavitha and the Reddys were partners via proxies, officials said. 

They claimed Vijay Nair had asked Mahendru to give a stake in the company to Pillai and Manduri. In exchange, Indospirits was promised the wholesale business of Pernod Ricard, one of the largest liquor manufacturers, which has brands like Chivas Regal, Absolut and Jameson. 

Nair, officials claimed, was working on behalf of then Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia – who is now in jail in the case – and Pillai has allegedly admitted to being Ms Kavitha’s representative in Indospirits. 

During questioning, Buchi Babu allegedly admitted that the total amount paid through hawala channels in this deal was around Rs 100 crore. 

The officials alleged Kavitha used at least 10 phones between 2021 and 2022 to avoid leaving a digital trail. The ED has claimed she was an active participant in the scam and helped Pillai, Babu and others figure out how to conduct illegal business dealings. 

Summons Skipped

Ms Kavitha had been questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in 2023, but had not appeared after being summoned in January and February this year.

The BRS leader has said in the past that she had done nothing illegal, and accused the BJP of using the ED for political gains. The Congress, on the other hand, had claimed that the BJP party was going easy on Ms Kavitha before the Telangana Assembly elections last year, hinting at an understanding between the parties.

Charges of misusing the central agencies have been levelled against the BJP by several opposition parties, including the AAP. Two AAP leaders – Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh – are already in jail in connection with the case while Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is under the ED’s lens and has skipped multiple summons.