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From accused turning approvers to Kejriwal's arrest: Decoding the Delhi excise policy case



New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday, following revelations of the use of hawala operators to transfer proceeds for funding elections, meetings and details of the hotels, and statements of approvers, as per sources in the financial probe agency.

As per the ED, Kejriwal, along with other top leaders of his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), allegedly received kickbacks amounting to Rs 100 crore in connection with the Delhi excise policy, and this money was transferred through a series of intermediaries and middlemen, implicating BRS MLC K. Kavitha and members of the ‘South Group’ in the process.

Kejriwal had evaded nine summonses by the ED, resulting in the filing of two cases against him under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in the court.

The accumulation of evidence by the ED ultimately prompted the arrest.

On March 16, the ED, while seeking custody of Kavitha, who was arrested from Hyderabad the previous day and is the daughter of BRS supremo and former Telangana Chief Minister, revealed her alleged involvement as a “key conspirator and beneficiary” in the alleged scam.

The probe agency, in its plea for custody, had alleged that along with other members of the ‘South Group’ – Sarath Reddy, Raghav Magunta, and Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, Kavitha conspired with top leaders of the AAP, including CM Kejriwal and his deputy and Excise Minister Manish Sisodia, providing them kickbacks amounting to Rs 100 crore.

“In exchange for the kickbacks paid to the leaders of AAP, she had access to the policy formulation and was offered provisions to ensure a favourable position to her,” read the ED’s application before the court.

The ED also alleged that Kavitha further got stakes in the partnership of Indo Spirits, through her dummy Arun Pillai, without substantial investment in this firm and distribution business of Pernod Ricard India Pvt Ltd, which is one of the biggest manufacturers in the country and thus made Indo Spirits, the most profitable L1 in the Delhi Excise policy 2021-22 period and thus recouped proceeds of crime in guise of profits.

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“Further, in the policy, the profit margin of the wholesaler was increased to 12 per cent so that out of this margin, a portion of it could be taken back as kickbacks. This was done to create a continuous stream of illegal funds for the AAP in the form of kickbacks from the wholesalers and for the South Group to recover the kickbacks paid and further generate profits from this entire conspiracy,” the application claimed.

Sarath Reddy, Raghav Magunta, and Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy had turned approvers in the case.

The ED claimed that Kavitha and the others paid bribes to the top AAP leaders, as per the statement of Srinivasulu Reddy, dated July 14, 2023, recorded under Section 50 of the PMLA and his statement dated July 17, 2023, recorded under Section 164 of CrPC.

As per the statement, submitted in court, Srinivasulu Reddy said that in March 2021, he read in a Delhi newspaper that the city government was privatising the liquor trade, and as they have been in the liquor business in south India for the last 71 years, they had considered expanding to Delhi and sought to meet the CM.

He stated that the CM’s office had given him time on the evening of March 16, 2021, and when he met Kejriwal, “he was cordial and said that we welcome everyone in Delhi to do business”.

“Regarding the liquor business earlier, Kavitha had already approached me to do liquor business in Delhi and offered to pay Rs 100 crore to the party i.e. the AAP, and she will call you in this liquor business connection or you call her, discuss the future, since already their team is working in Delhi,” he said, as per his statement.

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The ED, quoting his statement, said Kavitha called Srinivasulu Reddy on March 19, 2021, and asked him to meet her, which he did the next day, and she told him that Kejriwal had spoken to her and asked her to give Rs 100 crore and accordingly, she asked Srinivasulu Reddy to arrange Rs 50 crore for this.

“Kavitha told him that her CA Buchi Babu would visit him and his son Raghav Magunta to coordinate this. Buchi Babu visited them the next day and Raghav Magunta told him that he could arrange Rs 30 crore and finally, Rs 25 crore was paid in cash to Abhishek Boinpally and Buchi Babu on the instructions of K. Kavitha,” it said

The ED also said that Magunta, in his statement, dated July 26, 2023, recorded under Section 50 of the PMLA, and another one, dated July 27, 2023, recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, admitted he paid Rs 25 crore in cash to Boinpally and Buchi Babu as per the agreement between Kavitha, himself and his father Srinivasulu Reddy.

The agency claimed that this cash transfer took place in two parts – on March 28, 2021, Rs 10 crore was delivered by Raghav Magunta’s staffer Gopi Kumaran to an address given by Buchi Babu in Chennai and in June 2021, an amount of Rs 15 crore delivered by Gopi Kumaran to an address given by Boinpally, and that Gopi Kumaran has corroborated the statement of Raghav Magunta.

The ED further said that Sarath Reddy, in his statement, dated April 25, 2023, recorded under Section 50 of PMLA, 2002 and dated April 29, 2023, recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, said that sometime in March 2021, Arun Pillai contacted him and informed him that there was a new business opportunity in the Delhi liquor business and Kavitha was in discussion with CM Kejriwal and his deputy Sisodia regarding the upcoming policy through Vijay Nair.

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“Soon after this discussion with Pillai, Reddy met Kavitha in Hyderabad. Kavitha also told him that she had discussed the matter with Magunta and informed him that her team (Pillai, Buchi Babu, and Boinpally) was already working in Delhi with Nair on this,” the ED’s application read, adding that she also told Reddy that Nair would handle all the issues on behalf of Kejriwal and Sisodia.

“The evidence, the letters of the Chief Minister evading the summonses by calling them ‘political’ and ‘illegal’ and the cases the agency filed against Kejriwal before the court emboldened the directorate and ‘prepared the ground for the sternest legal action,” a source said.

The Delhi excise policy scam case stems from a report submitted by Chief Secretary, Naresh Kumar, to Lt Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena in July 2022, hinting at potential procedural irregularities in the policy’s formulation. He accused the then Excise Minister Sisodia of making arbitrary and unilateral decisions and contended that the implementation of the new policy led to financial losses for the government, while certain leaders and ministers affiliated with the AAP allegedly received kickbacks.

Two separate cases, one initiated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and another focusing on suspected money laundering being probed by the ED, were filed.

The investigation was initially handled by the CBI, resulting in Sisodia’s arrest in February 2023. Subsequently, the ED assumed responsibility for exploring potential money laundering aspects of the policy.

Following the CBI’s identification of Sisodia and 14 others, including AAP’s communications in-charge Nair, in its FIR, the ED informed a court in March about the alleged proceeds of crime exceeding Rs 292 crore and emphasised the need to establish the modus operandi behind these purported financial irregularities.



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Delhi L-G, AAP accuse each other of hatching conspiracy to trouble voters




New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Delhi Lieutenant Governor V.K. Saxena and AAP leaders late on Friday accused each other of hatching a conspiracy to trouble voters and vitiate the polling process in the national capital, where voting started on Saturday morning.

In a post on X, AAP Minister Atishi said, “Information has been received that the Delhi Lt Governor today (Friday) ordered Delhi Police to slow down voting in areas where there are a large number of INDIA bloc voters so that people face difficulty in casting their votes. Any such attempt by the administration to make the BJP win is illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional. And I hope the Election Commission will take cognizance of this, and stop any such attempt.”

Replying to the post, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “This is shocking. EC should ensure smooth voting in Delhi.”

Later, the Lt Governor’s office issued a statement, saying: “Information has been received that on the orders of Arvind Kejriwal, who is out on interim bail till June 1, power and water minister Atishi Marlena has instructed the power companies and Delhi Jal Board to deliberately cut power supply and stop water supply tonight (May 24) and throughout the day tomorrow (May 25) so that the people of Delhi are troubled.”

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“The LG has directed that these orders of Kejriwal should not be followed. Information has also been received that Kejriwal is doing this so that he can habitually confuse and cheat the people of Delhi by blaming the Central government,” it stated.

In a post on X at 12.27 a.m. Saturday, the Lt Governor called Atishi’s statement unwarranted and false.

“You have made it a habit, Kejriwal sahab, to keep crying irrespective of the situation you may be in. I have taken a stern view of this unwarranted & false statement on the eve of election against a constitutional authority by a Minister, endorsed by you,” Saxena wrote.



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Polling for 14 LS seats begins in UP; Maneka Gandhi, Nirahua in fray




Lucknow, May 25 (IANS) Voting for 14 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh started at 7 a.m. on Saturday in the sixth and penultimate round of elections.

The Lok Sabha seats in the state on which polling is underway are Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Phulpur, Allahabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Shrawasti, Domariyaganj, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar, Lalganj, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Machhlishahr and Bhadohi.

According to the Election Commission, 2.70 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.

Sant Kabir Nagar has the highest number of 20.71 lakh voters, while the Allahabad (Prayagraj) constituency has the lowest 18.25 lakh registered voters.

Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Electoral Officer Navdeep Rinwa said that in all, 14 constituencies, including two reserved seats of Lalganj and Machhlishahr, there are 1.43 crore male voters, 1.27 crore female voters and 1,256 third gender voters.

A total of 162 candidates, including 16 women, are contesting in this phase with a maximum of 26 contestants from Pratapgarh and a minimum of six from the Domariyaganj seat.

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The key candidates in this phase include Maneka Gandhi in Sultanpur, who is seeking her ninth term in the Lok Sabha. She is contesting against Samajwadi Party’s Ram Bhual Nishad and Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Udraj Verma.

In Allahabad, Neeraj Tripathi, son of former West Bengal governor Kesari Nath Tripathi, is the BJP candidate competing against Ujjawal Raman Singh of the Congress. Singh is the son of Reoti Raman Singh, who represented the seat from 2004 to 2014.

In Azamgarh, incumbent MP Dinesh Lal Yadav Nirahua is seeking to retain his seat for the BJP, facing off against Samajwadi Party’s Dharmendra Yadav, who lost to Nirahua in the 2022 by-poll.

The seat was previously held by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in the 2019 elections.

Jaunpur will see former Maharashtra minister Kripa Shankar Singh of the BJP competing with Samajwadi Party candidate Babu Singh Khushwaha and the incumbent MP Shyam Singh Yadav of the BSP.

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In Bhadohi, Lalitesh Pati Tripathi of the Trinamool Congress is in the race, while in Ambedkar Nagar, BJP’s Ritesh Pandey is up against former minister Lalji Verma of the Samajwadi Party.

In Sant Kabir Nagar, BJP incumbent Praveen Nishad is contesting against Samajwadi Party’s Pappu Nishad.

Meanwhile, police have made elaborate security arrangements for the sixth phase of polling taking place in the state.

DGP Prashant Kumar said, “To ensure successful conduct of voting, 8,840 inspectors/officers, 68,191 head constables/constables, 48,091 home guards, 49 companies of PAC, and 229 companies of Central Armed Police Force (BSF/ITBP/CRPF/CISF/ SSB/RPF) have been deployed. Additionally, 18,862 village guards and 443 PRD personnel have been mobilized as force multipliers.”



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Polling for all 10 Lok Sabha seats begins in Haryana




Chandigarh, May 25 (IANS) Polling started across all the 10 Lok Sabha seats of Haryana amid tight security on Saturday morning in the sixth and penultimate phase of the general elections.

Electors across the state could be seen reaching polling stations even before voting started at 7 a.m. The voting will be held till 6 p.m.

A total of 2,00,76,786 voters, comprising 94 lakh women, will decide the fate of 223 candidates, after weeks of heated campaign barbs.

“There has been no report of any delay in starting the poll process,” an electoral officer told IANS here.

The main contest is between the Congress and the state-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The polling will see some high-profile contestants in key battles. Among them are two-time Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who is contesting his first Lok Sabha election from Karnal, Congress leader Deepender Hooda from Rohtak, and Union Ministers Rao Inderjit Singh from Gurugram, against whom the Congress has pitted actor Raj Babbar, and Krishan Pal Gurjar.

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Besides the Lok Sabha polls, there is a bypoll for the Karnal Assembly seat, the seat vacated by Khattar, where Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, the outgoing Lok Sabha MP from Kurukshetra, is among the nine candidates in the fray. Saini had replaced Khattar as the Chief Minister in March.

Votes will be counted on June 4.

“Police are on high alert for any anti-social elements spreading rumours on social media. Strict action will be taken against offenders, who will face severe legal consequences,” said Director General of Police Shatrujeet Kapur.

Chief Electoral Officer Anurag Agarwal has appealed to the voters to exercise their franchise and ensure their participation in the biggest festival of the country.

A total of 20,031 polling stations have been set up in the state. These include 19,812 permanent and 219 auxiliary polling stations. As many as 5,470 polling stations have been set up in urban areas and 14,342 polling stations in rural areas.

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Agarwal said that 176 model polling stations have been established. There are 99 polling stations which will be operated entirely by women staff. Besides, 96 polling stations are manned by youth staff and 71 polling stations by persons with disability.

All basic facilities and necessary arrangements have been put in place in view of the heat wave.

He said that apart from the returning officers, more than 96,000 officers and employees (except security forces) will be on duty in the polling stations.

Also, flying squads, observers along with micro observers will be present at different polling stations.

In 2019, the BJP won all 10 constituencies, with a vote share of 58 per cent, improving its tally from 2014 when it managed to win seven out of the eight constituencies it had contested.

However, the BJP’s vote share slipped to 22 per cent in the Assembly polls in October 2019.



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Voting begins for penultimate phase of Lok Sabha polls




New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Voting began at 7 a.m. on Saturday for the penultimate phase of the Lok Sabha polls with over 11 crore voters in 58 seats across eight states/UTs eligible to seal the fate of the 889 candidates in the fray.

Polling is being held in all the 10 seats in Haryana and seven constituencies in Delhi, eight seats in Bihar, four in Jharkhand, six in Odisha, 14 in UP, and eight seats in West Bengal, apart from the Anantnag-Rajouri constituency in Jammu and Kashmir, where the election was deferred from the third phase on May 7.

Voting for 42 seats of the Odisha Assembly is also being held in the state’s third phase of simultaneous polling.

Among the prominent BJP candidates in this phase are Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan from Odisha’s Sambalpur, former Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar from Karnal, late Union Minister Sushma Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri Swaraj making her electoral debut from New Delhi, former Union Minister Maneka Gandhi from UP’s Sultanpur, and former Calcutta High Court judge Abhijit Gangophadhyay from West Bengal’s Tamluk.

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Kumari Selja from Haryana’s Sirsa, Raj Babbar from Gurgaon, former JNUSU chief Kanhaiya Kumar from North East Delhi (all Congress), PDP President and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti from Anantnag-Rajouri, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav from UP’s Azamgarh and actor-politician Deepak ‘Dev’ Adhikari of the Trinamool Congress from West Bengal’s Ghatal are also in the fray.

The Election Commission said that 11.4 lakh polling officials have been deployed to facilitate voting by 11.13 crore voters – 5.84 crore male, 5.29 crore female and 5,120 third-gender – across 1.14 lakh polling stations.

In view of the soaring temperatures, the poll panel said that CEOs and state machinery concerned have been directed to take adequate measures to manage the adverse impact of hot weather or rainfall wherever predicted, while assured minimum facilities like shade, water, toilets, volunteers, and wheelchairs have been arranged.

The Election Commission has called upon voters to turn out in greater numbers, with the electorate of urban centres like Delhi, Gurugram, and Faridabad especially reminded about their right and duty to vote and break the trend of urban apathy.

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With this phase, Delhi, Haryana, and J&K will join the 25 states/UTs where polling has already been concluded in the earlier five phases and contests will be over in 486 constituencies.



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Army man attacked by group of five in Karnataka's Tumakuru




Tumakuru, May 25 (IANS) The Karnataka Police on Friday registered a case against five individuals for attacking a soldier of the Indian Army with a beer bottle at a village under the Koratagere police station limits here.

The injured soldier, Govindaraju (30), is admitted to Koratagere government hospital.

Govindaraju, posted in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, had returned to his hometown in Rayawara village on vacation

According to the police, the incident occurred at Bhyrenahalli while Govindaraju was returning home after visiting someone in the village.

A group of five individuals stood in the road, blocking Govindaraju’s path. When he asked them to allow him to pass through, the group enraged and started abusing him. Later, one of them smashed Govindaraju’s head with a beer bottle. Others in the group also attacked him.

The accused individuals have been identified as Bharath, Puneeth, Gourishankar, Shiva, and Dileep.

Following the soldier’s complaint, the Koratagere police have filed a case against the accused individuals and launched a hunt to apprehend them.

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The Koratagere Assembly constituency is represented by Karnataka Home Minister G. Parameshwara.



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