Amid large cash seizures since the demonetisation of high-value currency, the Bengaluru police have revived investigations into the seizure of Rs 1.97 crore at the Vidhana Soudha on October 21 from the car of an advocate H M Siddharth — who has represented among others state BJP president B S Yeddyurappa. The Central Crime Branch unit has been tasked with finding out the origin of the cash and where it was being taken when seized on October 21.
The cash was seized from the boot of a car linked to Siddharth at the Vidhana Soudha, the seat of the Karnataka government. The advocate reportedly gave contradictory statements regarding the purpose for which the cash was being carried in the car.
The seizure had generated a political controversy with JD(S) state president and former CM H D Kumaraswamy making a statement that Yeddyurappa was best placed to throw more light on the money. The BJP then denied any link between Yeddyurappa and the cash, and questioned Kumaraswamy for linking him to the cash merely because the advocate had appeared for the BJP state president in a Rs 40 crore corruption case registered by the CBI.
The seizure case was lying dormant for over a month, after the advocate appeared before the income tax department and claimed the cash was his own. In early December, it was abruptly transferred to the CCB. “We have taken up the case for further investigation and a team is working on it to find the source and destination of the seized money,” additional commissioner of police (crime) K V Sharath Chandra said.
Siddharth has reportedly claimed that the money was collected from a number of clients as his fees for various cases, and that he was on his way to a bank to deposit it when it was seized.
Police sources said they had found that the advocate was engaged in 142 cases in Karnataka High Court, two cases in the Supreme Court and hundreds of cases in the lower courts including special courts for the CBI and Lokayukta cases in Bengaluru. “The advocate has given a list of his clients claiming they had given paid him the cash as his fee for representing them. The clients include a few politicians and builders. We have already questioned more than 20 people and another 60 need to be questioned,” a police officer said.
Police are asking the advocate’s clients to provide documents on their ties with him. The advocate has reportedly told the CCB that he was planning to use the cash to buy a flat in Bengaluru since realtors were demanding full payment at one go. “We visited the bank he has mentioned. He has an account in the branch and has also availed a loan from it,” a police officer said.