The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday, 7 March, granted interim anticipatory bail to the absconding Channagiri MLA Madal Virupakshappa in a bribery case.
While granting the interim bail, the court asked the BJP MLA — the prime accused in the case — to provide a surety bail bond of ₹5 lakh and to appear before the Investigating Officer (IO) of the Karnataka Lokayukta within 48 hours.
The court also asked the BJP MLA not to enter the office of the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KSDL) until further orders.
After his son and KAS officer Prashanth Madal was caught by Karnataka Lokayukta while taking bribes, Virupakshappa resigned from the post of chairman of KSDL on 3 March.
Justice K Natarajan gave the interim bail order on the appeal of Madal’s legal team. Virupakshappa’s legal team moved to the high court seeking anticipatory bail on Monday.
According to sources, Virupakshappa’s legal counsel K Suman argued that his client had no link to the alleged bribery case and did not ask for any bribe.
There was no evidence to prove his involvement in this case, said counsel, adding that it was a political conspiracy against his client.
The next hearing of the case is on 17 March.
The police search
A complaint was registered before the Lokayukta alleging that the Channagiri MLA Madal demanded bribes to clear certain tenders in the KSDL.
The Lokayukta booked Madal under Section 7(a) of the Prevention of Corruption (Amended) Act of 2018 (taking undue advantage to influence public servants by corrupt or illegal means or by exercise of personal influence).
According to the FIR, the BJP MLA was the main accused and his son Prashanth and four others were co-accused.
The Lokayukta police seized ₹8.3 crore in cash from the office of the MLA and the residence of his son on 3 March.
Virupakshappa has remained underground for the past four days. The Lokayukta police are looking for the BJP MLA in the alleged bribe case.
HC notice to Lokayukta
While passing the order for the anticipatory bail application of the Channagiri MLA, the court also served a notice to the Karnataka Lokayukta and directed it to file a detailed objection report.
On condition of anonymity, an officer attached to Karnataka Lokayukta in Bengaluru told South First: “The high court has granted only an interim bail to the accused.”
The officer added: “As per the court directions, we will submit the detailed objection report on the next hearing, which is on 17 March.”
They also said: “We couldn’t file a detailed objection because there was very little time with us. The accused has not been given complete relief. We have ample time to file a detailed objection on this.”
Police book Youth Congress members
Meanwhile, the police in Davanagere on Tuesday registered a suo motu case against the members of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) for putting up “missing” posters of Virupakshappa.
Instead of arresting the absconding BJP MLA, Bommai Govt is arresting those who are putting up posters of “missing MLA”.
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) March 7, 2023
The police registered the case under the Public Post Disfigure Act. However, no IYC member has been arrested.
The members of the IYC, youth wing of the Indian National Congress, put up “missing” posters of the BJP MLA in many cities, including Davanagere and Bengaluru City in the early hours of Tuesday.
In the poster, the Youth Congress put up the details of the MLA, including his height and age.
Interestingly, they also mentioned Virupakshappa’s last seen location, which was claimed to be the Chief Minister’s Office, on 4 March.
The Youth Congress also appealed to the people to help the Karnataka Lokayukta to find the missing MLA.
Davanagere SP CB Ryshyanth told South First: “We have registered a case against all the people that were found putting up these posters. The night-beat police found the members of the IYC posting them at many places in the city at midnight.”
He added: “We detained a few people who were gearing up to put up the posters. However, they were released later. We have not arrested anyone connected to the case. We have also not received any complaint against these posters.”