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Delhi heat rises as ED to bring AAP, BRS(KCR) leaders face-to-face during liquor policy scam probe

New Delhi : AAP leader Manish Sisodia was sent to ED custody until March 17 on Friday, while BRS MLC Kavitha will appear before it today.

Former Deputy Chief Minister and AAP leader Manish Sisodia was sent to Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody till March 17 in connection with its money laundering probe in the Delhi liquor scam case by Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court on Friday.

Meanwhile, BRS (KCR) MLC K Kavitha is set to appear before the ED for questioning on Saturday. The two leaders are likely to be brought face-to-face while questioning, as per sources.

There was a conspiracy behind framing the now-scrapped excise policy, the ED told the court on Friday, while seeking 10-day custody of Sisodia, adding Read More

The dharna by K Kavitha, a Member of Legislative Council (MLC) in Telangana from the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, demanding the tabling of the bill for 33% reservation for women in Parliament, has managed to unite the Opposition on women’s issues.

Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan appearing for Sisodia on Friday argued that in cases of money laundering, one must examine the concealment, possession, and use of the funds and trace them back to the individual. “However, in my case, not even a single penny has been linked to me. It is amusing to suggest that Vinay Nair acted as a representative of Manish Sisodia. The investigative authorities have failed to solve even a tiny portion of the alleged money trail.”

“You have to show that the money went to him. Let them show that even one rupee went to him (Sisodia),” he stressed.

The ED on Friday told a Delhi court that Sisodia’s aide Vijay Nair “coordinated the whole conspiracy” behind the Delhi liquor scam case. Nair is the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Mumbai-based Only Much Louder (OML), an entertainment and event management company.

Sisodia held a roadshow before his arrest by the CBI in February where he talked about his wife’s illness and urged his followers to take care of her as he was almost certain of his arrest. Delhi CM Kejriwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann after his arrest visited his residence.

“Manish ji’s wife is suffering from a serious illness — multiple sclerosis. In this disease, the brain’s control over the body gradually decreases. Manishji’s son studies abroad. She is alone now. I told her that Manish ji is a brave person and every Indian is proud of Manishji,” Kejriwal had said.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said those serving the country and children are being put behind bars, drawing parallels of the recent events with the mythological episode of Hiranyakashipu and Prahlad.

Without naming anyone, he said just like Hiranyakashipu could not stop Prahlad from worshipping God, the modern-day Prahlad too cannot be stopped. He apparently referred to his former deputy Manish Sisodia as Prahlad.

Sukesh Chandrasekhar is a conman who has been behind bars since 2017 and is involved in over 30 criminal cases including extortion and cheating. He has made a number of allegations against the AAP, which have been dismissed by the party as a ‘fictitious ploy’.

In November last year Chandrashekhar claimed he had been forced to pay Rs 10 crore as ‘protection money’ to AAP leader Satyendar Jain. He also claimed he paid the AAP Es 50 crore for a Rajya Sabha seat. On Friday, after Sisodia was remanded to ED custody, he claimed next would be Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and that the CM was the ‘wazir’.

The ED on Friday told the court that Sisodia’s aide Vijay Nair “coordinated the whole conspiracy”, while Dinesh Arora was coordinating kickbacks. The ED said that Arora got a call from AAP leader Sanjay Singh that he shall seek funds from various restaurants as elections were approaching.

Senior AAP leader Sanjay Singh was named by the ED as being involved in the Delhi liquor scam on Friday. Singh had called Dinesh Arora that he shall seek funds from various restaurants as elections were approaching, the ED told a Delhi court while seeking custody of Manish Sisodia. Meanwhile, Singh Friday lashed out at the BJP-led Centre on Friday, alleging that its “only objective is to defame” his party.

Telangana CM KCR’s daughter and BRS (KCR) MLC K Kavitha has been summoned by the ED for questioning today in connection with its probe in the Delhi liquor scam case. Kavitha is under the scanner as one of the key players in the ‘South Group’, an alleged network of middlemen, businessmen and politicians which the ED is investigating.

“Between key players from South group to Vijay Nair to kickbacks paid, the conspiracy was orchestrated by Nair and others from south group including K Kavitha,” the ED said on Friday.

Manish Sisodia is an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and the former deputy Chief Minister of Delhi. He was arrested by the CBI on February 26 in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi liquor or excise policy for 2021-22. On Friday, Sisodia was remanded to ED custody until March 17 in connection with their money laundering probe in the same case.

The case pertains to the now-scrapped excise policy for 2021-22 by the Delhi government where it is alleged that the policy to grant licences to liquor traders allowed cartelisation and favoured certain dealers, who had allegedly paid bribes worth Rs 100 crore for it.

The ED on Friday referred to meetings between the Restaurant Association and Sisodia, and said that following these meetings, relaxations were afforded to the restaurants in the excise policy, and the legal age of drinking was reduced among other things.

The central probe agency has also named BRS leader K Kavitha as part of the conspiracy. “Between key players from South group to Vijay Nair to kickbacks paid, the conspiracy was orchestrated by Nair and others from south group including K Kavitha,” the ED told the court.

The statement of K Kavitha’s former auditor Buchibabu was also read in court. The ED said, “He has disclosed that there was a political understanding between Deputy CM Manish Sisodia and K Kavitha. She also met Vijay Nair.”

The ED also noted that “destruction of digital evidence was done to derail the investigation.” The agency told the court that 14 phones were destroyed in a span of one year. “He (Sisodia) has also used sim cards and phones purchased in other person’s names so that he can give an excuse later,” the agency claimed.

The ED said it is seeking Sisodia’s remand to examine the money trail. The ED said Sisodia, in his statements, “has remained untrue and has given answers contrary to the statement given by independent people.”

Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan appearing for Sisodia argued that in cases of money laundering, one must examine the concealment, possession, and use of the funds and trace them back to the individual. “However, in my case, not even a single penny has been linked to me. It is amusing to suggest that Vinay Nair acted as a representative of Manish Sisodia. The investigative authorities have failed to solve even a tiny portion of the alleged money trail.”

After hearing the arguments, the court deferred its ruling on the Enforcement Directorate’s request for a 10-day remand of Manish Sisodia. Later, the court ruled to send AAP leader Manish Sisodia to ED custody till March 17.

Sisodia was arrested by the ED on Thursday after his second round of questioning at Tihar Jail in connection with its money laundering probe into alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy.

Sisodia has been in judicial custody since the CBI arrested him on February 26 in connection with alleged corruption in the formulation and implementation of the now-scrapped Delhi liquor or excise policy for 2021-22.

Meanwhile, K Kavitha — daughter of Telangana Chief Minister M K Chandrasekhar Rao — has also been summoned by the ED in connection with a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the excise policy.

She was summoned by the ED to depose before it on Thursday, but the agency agreed to her request to appear on March 11 as she has announced a hunger strike on March 10 in support for the women’s reservation bill.

The BRS (KCR) leader on Thursday said she has done nothing wrong and alleged that targeting leaders using probe agencies has been the BJP’s modus operandi at the time of elections.

Since last June, the central government has been constantly sending agencies such as the ED to Telangana, Kavitha Kalvakuntla (44), a Bharat Rashtra Samithi BRS (KCR) MLC, said. It has conducted Income Tax raids on more than 500 businesses, NIA raids on 500 to 600 people, ED raids in 200 places and CBI raids in 100 places, Kavitha alleged.

“This is not my issue alone. In our party, minimum 15-16 leaders, including MPs and MLAs, have been targeted in different cases,” she said. “The question is why? The Telangana assembly polls are due in November-December. The modus operandi of the BJP has been that before (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, ED reaches wherever elections are there,” Kavitha said and added that “we have seen that the BJP has used backdoor entry in nine states, and they are unable to do it in Telangana, which is why they are using the ED now, but we are not afraid”.