MLA Madal Virupakshappa, prime accused in graft case, arrested on way from Tumakuru to Bengaluru

Lokayukta sleuths arrested the MLA hours after the Karnataka High Court on Monday dismissed his anticipatory bail application.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Mar 27, 2023 | 9:48 PMUpdated Mar 27, 2023 | 10:50 PM

Madal Virupakshappa MLA Channagiri Constituency

Channagiri MLA Madal Virupakshappa, the prime accused in the graft case involving tenders and contracts of the Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited (KSDL), was arrested by Lokayukta sleuths from the outskirts of Bengaluru on Monday, 27 March.

The BJP MLA’s arrest came hours after the Karnataka High Court dismissed his anticipatory bail application in an alleged bribery case where his son Prashanth Madal was caught red-handed by the Lokayukta police at the former’s office on Crescent Road in Bengaluru earlier this month.

Lokayukta Inspector General of Police (IGP) A Subramanyeswara Rao confirmed to South First that the MLA was arrested near Nelamangala while he was on his way from Tumakuru to Bengaluru on Monday evening.

“He is in our custody, and we have 24 hours to produce him before a magistrate, after which our men will seek custody for further investigation,” said Subramanyeswara Rao.

Lokayukta Superintendent of Police (SP) Ashok KV reaffirmed this to South First.

Related: Karnataka HC grants interim bail to Virupakshappa

Arguments in court

The Lokayutka police registered a case on 2 March in which the MLA was mentioned as the prime accused.

However, the Karnataka High Court granted him interim anticipatory bail on 7 March, but there were a personal bond of ₹5 lakh and other bail conditions.

The single-judge bench — consisting of only Justice K Natarajan — reserved the order on 17 March after hearing both parties.

On Monday, the court reportedly observed that the petitioner’s counsel had contended that there was absolutely no material to attract the provisions of Section 7 (a) (b) (A) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The petitioner’s counsel also argued that KSDL had a specially-constituted tender-inviting and accepting committee which decided on the modality and conditions of tenders.

He added that the MLA, who was then the chairman of KSDL, was not a part of this committee, adding that the legislator was also cooperating with the investigation.

However, the prosecution asserted to the court that custodial interrogation of the legislator was required to extract additional information.

The prosecution also told the court that the MLA had been appearing before the Lokayukta, but was not cooperating with the investigation.

During the hearing of the high court on Monday, the advocate for the Lokayukta raised a strong objection to the bail application, and finally, the single-judge bench dismissed the MLA’s bail application.

Related: Investigating officer changed, gag orders on media

The corruption crackdown

The case pertains to the alleged demand and receipt of bribes for allotting tenders or contracts for supplying chemicals to the state-run company KSDL.

Raids by the Lokayukta at the MLA’s and his son’s houses unearthed unaccounted-for cash to the tune of ₹8.23 crore, for which the MLA said he had documents, which he said he would produce in time.

Virupakshappa has been charged with demanding bribes through his son Prashanth Madal, a Karnataka Administrative Service (KAS) officer, working as a financial advisor and chief accountant with the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB).

According to Lokayukta sleuths, a demand for ₹81 lakh bribe was sought for getting the tender contract of supplying chemical raw materials to KSDL, and Prashanth was caught while accepting ₹40 lakh of that money — allegedly the first instalment of the bribe.

Lokayukta sleuths told South First that Prashanth admitted to the officials that the money was being collected at the behest of his father.

Later, over ₹7 crore in cash was seized from Virupakshappa’s residence.

Prashanth Madal was arrested in the case on 2 March. Four more arrests have been made by the Lokayukta police in the case since then.

On 3 March, Virupakshappa resigned as the chairman of KSDL on moral grounds, but stated that he and his family members had been targeted by a conspiracy.

Also read: The Yediyurappa loyalist whose son was caught taking bribes

After the first FIR

In the first FIR, Virupakshappa was named as the prime accused in the case.

Soon after he learnt that his name featured in the FIR, he went incommunicado until he was granted interim anticipatory bail on 7 March in an “urgent” hearing.

The high court granting him anticipatory bail was a matter of celebration at the Channagiri constituency, where the MLA’s supporters were seen garlanding their leader.

However, the MLA was arrested with the anticipatory bail plea rejected on Monday.

Madal faces charges under Sections 7(A) and 7(B) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

While Prashanth Madal is the second accused in the case, Siddesh, Surendhar, Albert Nicholas, Gangadhar, and Deepak Jadhav are the other accused.

Also read: 2 more FIRs filed against son of Madal Virupakshappa

Apex court seeks reply

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Monday sought a reply from Virupakshappa to the state Lokayukta’s plea challenging the high court order granting him anticipatory bail.

However, the high court dismissed the MLA’s anticipatory bail petition hours later, and the lawmaker was arrested by the Lokayukta police.

Seeking the reply, the apex court bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia issued a notice to the MLA.

Karnataka Lokayukta approached the Supreme Court soon after Madal Virupakshappa was granted anticipatory bail.

The apex court on 14 March agreed to hear the case on 27 March.

(With PTI inputs)