The case presents the question of whether a woman can be summoned to the Central probe agency’s office, says BRS legislator’s lawyer; plea argues that the action was an intimidatory tactic.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on March 24 a plea by K. Kavitha, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) MLC and daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, seeking protection from arrest and challenging the summons issued by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case in connection with the Delhi excise policy case.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha took note of the submissions by Ms. Kavitha. On March 11, the BRS leader had deposed before the ED to record her statement and was summoned again on March 16 for questioning.
“Can a woman be called to the office of the Enforcement Directorate?” her lawyer said while seeking an urgent hearing of the plea. It is “completely against the law”, he added.
The BRS legislator argued that the probe agency’s summons amounted to a clear violation of Section 160 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which requires that a woman need not appear as a witness before a police officer anywhere other than her own residence. She argued that the summons was an intimidatory tactic.
Ms. Kavitha said she was compelled to produce her mobile phone and was questioned after sunset the last time. She said her personal details had also been outed. The petition said there was no case against the legislator and she had been implicated in the case on the basis of statements extracted out of certain persons using coercion.
The probe agency also recorded the statement of Butchibabu Gorantla, a chartered accountant who was allegedly the former auditor of Ms. Kavitha. He was questioned and confronted with the statements of another arrested accused in the case, officials said.
Mr. Butchibabu was out on bail after the CBI arrested him in the case. He is also expected to be confronted with the statements made by Hyderabad-based businessman Arun Ramachandran Pillai, who was arrested by the ED on March 6. Mr. Pillai is also alleged to be linked to Ms. Kavitha.
The probe agency recently Informed a local court that Mr. Pillai and Mr. Butchibabu were staying at a five-star hotel in Hyderabad in mid-March when the report on the now-scrapped excise policy was being formulated.
“It has been revealed that the hotel’s business centre has been used by the said persons staying there,” the ED had said, adding that it had sought details from the hotel and is awaiting information.
“It is crucial to interrogate Pillai in ED custody while confronting him with the hotel records so as to investigate the link between South Group (represented by Pillai, Butchibabu and another arrested accused in the case Abhishek Boinpally) and Vijay Nair/GoM (headed by former Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia) at the time of policy formulation,” the ED had said.
Mr. Nair, a communication in charge of AAP, was arrested by the ED in this case earlier.