In a significant development in the Delhi liquor policy scam case in which Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader Kavitha Kalvakuntla is under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a Hyderabad-based businessman accused in the case has now turned approver.A Delhi court on Thursday, June 1, allowed Sarath Chandra Reddy of Aurobindo Pharma, an accused in the Delhi excise policy scam case, to turn an approver in the case.Sarath through his counsel had moved a plea before Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court requesting the court to let him be an approver.The court allowed his move and also pardoned him in the matter.The ED arrested Sarath Chandra Reddy, non-executive director of Aurobindo Pharma, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in November last year.He has now reportedly turned approver in the case, and could potentially help the ED build its case against Kavitha.The ED has alleged that the ‘South Group’ — controlled by Kavitha, Sarath, and others – gave kickbacks of nearly Rs 100 crore to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders to gain control over the liquor business in Delhi. In March this year, the case saw major political drama when Kavitha was summoned by the ED for questioning in Delhi, and the BRS MLC’s arrest seemed imminent.However, the ED officials let her go after several hours of questioning.Kavitha was earlier questioned in connection with the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in December 2022.However, she has not yet been named as an accused.The ED has alleged that massive bribes from the ‘South Group’ were used by AAP in the 2022 Goa Assembly elections.

The group was represented by Hyderabad-based businessmen Arun Pillai and Abhishek Boinpalli, and Kavitha’s former Chartered Accountant Butchibabu Gorantla, according to EDThe agency has also alleged that Arun Pillai was acting as a ‘benami’ representing Kavitha’s business interests.The ED had summoned Kavitha for questioning in March following the arrest of Arun Pillai after recording his statement.Kavitha and Arun were questioned together at the time.A day before the ED’s questioning on March 11, Arun Pillai had moved an application before Delhi’s Rouse Avenue Court seeking to retract his statements given to ED in the excise policy case. Sarath Chandra Reddy was arrested by the ED on November 10, 2022.In May this year, after initially being released on interim bail, Delhi High Court granted him regular bail on medical grounds.

He was recently charge-sheeted by the probe agency in the caseHe is the second person to become an approver.Last November, liquor businessman and accused in the case, Dinesh Arora turned approver.Sarath Chandra Reddy is the son of pharmaceutical giant Aurobindo Pharma founder PV Ram Prasad Reddy.He previously headed Trident Life Sciences Ltd which was later acquired by Aurobindo Pharma.He is now a non-executive director of Aurobindo Pharma, according to the company’s website which says: “He is a graduate of Business Administration.He is a second-generation entrepreneur and belongs to the promoter group.He has gained experience in general management and expertise in project executions.”He was earlier named in a CBI chargesheet in 2012, in connection with the quid pro quo case against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, over a land sale agreement with Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) in 2006 which allegedly benefitted Trident Life Sciences Ltd, when Sarath was its Managing Director.

The trial in the case is ongoing. With IANS input

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