New Delhi/Bengaluru, October 5
The CBI has registered a case against Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar for allegedly amassing disproportionate assets worth Rs 74.93 crore and carried out searches at 14 locations on Monday during which the agency claimed to have recovered Rs 57 lakh cash, officials said.
The case was registered after a seven-month-long preliminary enquiry looking into disproportionate assets of Shivakumar amassed in his and his family members’ name during his tenure as a minister in the Karnataka government, the CBI alleged.
This is the first case by the CBI against Shivakumar, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President and an MLA, who was earlier arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a case of alleged money laundering, they said.
The Congress hit out at the BJP-led central government, accusing it of “witch-hunt”, and linked the CBI action to the November 3 by-election in two assembly seats in Karnataka.
The BJP rejected the charges and said Shivakumar should answer the agencies on the source of his assets.
After registering the case under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the CBI teams searched at 14 locations spread across Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi.
Nine locations in Karnataka, four in Delhi and one in Mumbai were searched by the CBI which also included the residence of Shivakumar at Safdarjung Enclave and that of his brother DK Suresh, a member of parliament, in Kaveri Apartments in the national capital and their residences in Bengaluru, they said.
“Searches were conducted today at 14 locations including Karnataka, Delhi, Mumbai at the premises of said MLA (Shivakumar) and others which led to the recovery of cash of Rs 57 lakh(approx) and several incriminating documents including property documents, bank related information, computer hard disk, etc. Investigation is continuing,” CBI spokesperson RK Gaur said in a statement.
Shivakumar, who was appointed chief of the Congress’ Karnataka state unit in March this year, had been a minister in the Siddaramaiah Government of the Congress as well as the JDS-Congress Government led by HD Kumaraswamy.
The CBI action drew flak from Congress leaders who questioned its timing as the by-election to Sira and R R Nagar assembly segments in Karnataka is to be held on November 3.
Party workers protested against the CBI in front of Shivakumar’s residence in Bengaluru and various places in the state.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala termed it “raid raj” and a “Machiavellian move” by the BJP government.
“The insidious game of intimidation & machinations of Modi-Yeddyurappa duo being executed by a puppet CBI by raiding @DKShivakumar won’t deter us.
“CBI should be unearthing the layers of corruption in Yeddyurappa Govt. But, ‘Raid Raj’ is their only ‘Machiavellian Move’!,” Surjewala said on Twitter.
“Let Modi & Yeddyurappa Govts & BJP’s frontal organizations i.e CBI-ED-Income Tax know that Congress workers & leaders will not be cowed down nor bow down before such devious attempts. Our resolve to fight for people & expose BJP’s maladministration only becomes stronger,” he tweeted.
Congress Legislature Party leader Siddaramaiah alleged that the BJP “has always tried to indulge in vindictive politics and mislead public attention”.
“The latest CBI raid on @KPCCPresident @DKShivakumar’s house is another attempt to derail our preparation for bypolls. I strongly condemn this,” he tweeted.
Congress spokesperson A S Ponnanna, who is also a senior advocate of the Karnataka High Court, questioned the searches, claiming that it was against the direction of the court.
“I’m surprised politics is down to this level… CBI has to function under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, under which if they have to come to a state and investigate, they have to get permission from the state government, the permission that was given has been questioned by Shivakumar,” he said.
“The court had said do not precipitate, what I have understood from this is- they (CBI) should have not have acted.
“They should have got it vacated from the court and acted, after permission from the court,” Ponnanna, who served as an additional advocate general during the Congress government, said, adding that the investigation should be fair and lawful.
Countering the allegations, BJP National General Secretary C T Ravi said Shivakumar should cooperate with the CBI in its investigation.
Ravi, a former Karnataka minister, said, “The CBI is doing its work. If the Congress leader is clean, he should cooperate and tell the truth”.
He also sought to know if Shivakumar’s economic growth was natural as his assets grew “from Rs 75 crore in 2008 to Rs 250 crore in 2013 and Rs 840 crore in 2018”.
“You can respond to political issues standing in the street, but about the illegal acquisition of money or illegal transfer of money, one has to respond to CBI or ED,” the BJP leader said.
“There is no problem in making assets, but one needs to reveal the source of the money. If crores of rupees are kept in the name of his daughter who is still studying, he ought to respond to the CBI,” Ravi added.
Earlier, the ED had arrested Shivakumar in September last year on charges of money laundering. He was released from jail on October 23 after the Delhi High Court granted him bail. The PMLA case against him and others was slapped on the basis of a charge sheet (prosecution complaint) filed by the Income Tax Department in 2018 before a special court in Bengaluru on charges of alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions worth crores.
The I-T department has accused Shivakumar and his alleged associates of transporting a huge amount of unaccounted cash regularly through ‘hawala’ channels with the help of three other accused.
The former Karnataka cabinet minister played an instrumental role in ensuring the safe stay of Gujarat Congress MLAs in a Karnataka resort during the Rajya Sabha polls in 2017 amid allegations that the BJP was trying to poach them.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel had fought the Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat in 2017 and Shivakumar had hosted 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs at the resort to keep the flock together.
The ED had questioned his daughter Aishwarya too in this case after she was summoned to appear in Delhi. PTI