Karnataka graft case: BJP MLA not cooperating, Lokayukta rushes to SC seeking cancellation of bail

Lokayukta police get custody of MLA's son and four others for three days; they will be interrogated to find the source of money.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Mar 14, 2023 | 1:28 PMUpdatedMar 14, 2023 | 1:28 PM

Accused son of MLA Prashanth caught red-handed while taking bribe

The Karnataka Lokyukta on Tuesday, 14 March, rushed to the Supreme Court, challenging the anticipatory bail granted to BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa, the main accused in the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents (KSDL) bribery scam.

A single bench of the Karnataka High Court granted bail to the Channagiri MLA on 7 March.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the plea of the Lokayukta. The plea was initially mentioned for urgent listing before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, who asked the Lokayukta’s counsel to mention the matter before a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

When the counsel requested that the matter be listed as early as possible, the CJI said since the court of the Chief Justice is hearing a constitution bench matter, it will not be possible for the bench to hear it.

“You can mention the matter before the bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul. We are hearing a constitution bench matter or else we would have taken it at the end of the board,” the Chief Justice said.

Court to hear plea in due course

The counsel immediately moved to Justice Kaul’s court seeking an urgent listing of the plea.

When asked about the urgency of hearing the matter, the counsel said the accused is a sitting MLA and a large amount of money was seized from his possession.

Justice Kaul then directed that the matter be listed as early as possible and observed that the high court has already applied its mind.

The counsel requested that the matter be listed at 2 pm.

However, Justice Kaul said it is a bail-cancellation matter and it will be listed in due course.

MLA non-cooperative

On Monday, 13 March, Lokayukta sources told South First that Madal Virupakshappa was not cooperating with the Lokayukta probe and hence it would challenge the bail to get him in its custody.

BJP MLA Virupakshappa Madal. (Sourced)

Prashanth Kumar MV alias Prashanth Madal, son of BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa, who is the chief accounts officer of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, was arrested by the Lokayukta police on 2 March while allegedly receiving a bribe of ₹40 lakh on behalf of his father.

Virupakashappa resigned as the chairperson of KSDL after his son’s arrest.

While granting conditional bail, the high court directed the MLA to appear before the investigating officer in the case within 48 hours of receiving the order copy.

The anticipatory bail was granted subject to a bond of ₹5 lakh.

Virupakshappa was also directed not to tamper with the evidence or infleunce witnesses while on bail. The hearing of the petition was adjourned to 17 March.

The MLA’s petition claimed that he had no role to play in the alleged bribery case and he has been falsely implicated in it.

The scam relates to the supply of chemicals to KSDL in which a bribe of ₹81 lakh was allegedly demanded.

Following the arrest of Prashanth, the Lokayukta police conducted further search operations at the home and offices of the Madals and recovered over ₹8.2 crore in cash.

While ₹2.2 crore was seized from the MLA’s Crescent Road office, ₹6.1 crore was found at his son’s residence.

Related: Investigating officer changed, gag orders on media

Prashanth, four others in Lokayukta custody

The Lokayukta police took Madal Virupakshappa’s son Prashanth and four others into custody for three days on Monday to investigate the source of the money that was seized from them.

The cash was found during a raid on the MLA’s office on 2 March.

“We have taken into custody the prime accused, Prashanth Madal, along with four co-accused, Siddesh, Surendra, Albert Nicola, and Gangadhar on Monday morning. The court has granted us their custody till 11 am on 16 March,” Lokayukta SP Ashok KV told South First.

The Lokayukta police have registered three FIRs in connection with the alleged graft case. The four other accused were in the MLA’s office during the police inspection.

Siddesh, Surendra, Albert Nicola, and Gangadhar are the co-accused in the case.

While Siddesh was found in possession of unaccounted ₹60 lakh in cash, the police found Nicola and Gangadhar carrying ₹45 lakh each in their bags. They said the cash was from their firm, Karnataka Aromas, and it was to be handed over to Prashanth.

(With PTI inputs)