Lokayukta lawyer quits after Karnataka HC acquits former BJP minister

Karnataka Lokayukta special public prosecutor says govt ‘not serious’ in fighting high-profile corruption cases.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru | Published:November 5, 2016 1:59 am
karnataka, karnataka lokayukta, Venkatesh Dalwai, Katta Subramanya Naidu, former karnataka minister, karnataka hc, karnataka hc minister acquittal, india news Dalwai wrote that one of the grounds cited by the High Court in its decision to acquit Naidu in a Rs 117-crore land scam was an order that had enabled another accused, S V Srinivas, to be discharged.

A SPECIAL public prosecutor of the Karnataka Lokayukta has quit in a huff, citing the state government’s failure to effectively fight cases of corruption registered against influential people. Venkatesh Dalwai, SPP for the Lokayukta in Karnataka High Court since April 9, 2014, sent in his resignation to the Lokayukta registrar on Thursday, shortly after the High Court exonerated former BJP minister Katta Subramanya Naidu of corruption relating to land acquisition. The Lokayukta probe had built a strong case against him, according to Dalwai.

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Dalwai’s letter stated the acquittal was a result of the state government’s failure to file an appeal against the discharge of an associate of the former BJP minister despite repeated requests over the last eight months to file a plea in Supreme Court. “I was given to understand that the file pertaining [to] accused No. 3 (Srinivas) was sent to the state of Karnataka. However, still no steps are taken to file SLP by the state government nor our institution is assertive against deliberate attempts to close such matters by officials at the government. This only indicates the mode and method to bury the matters of this magnitude and… making [a] mockery of the entire system which fights corruption,” the SPP wrote.

Dalwai wrote that one of the grounds cited by the High Court in its decision to acquit Naidu in a Rs 117-crore land scam was an order that had enabled another accused, S V Srinivas, to be discharged. Despite multiple requests to the state to file a plea to counter the discharge of Srinivas, the government failed to do so, the SPP wrote. “Certain appeals are cleared by the state government in no time against petty officials and in the present matter in spite of repeated requests no attempts have been made to file an SLP even after eight months, which indicates deliberate attempts to bail out others also. The turn of events that have occurred is most unfortunate and I feel it inappropriate to continue in my post as the Special Public Prosecutor,’’ Dalwai wrote.

Dalwai said the outcome in the case against Naidu would have been different if the state government had pursued the matter of the discharge of Srinivas, his associate. “The attitude of the government shows that it is not serious about fighting high-profile corruption cases,” he said. The case In 2009, Lokayukta police accused Naidu — then the IT minister in the BJP government — of using insider information about government plans to create an SEZ near Bengaluru airport to buy large tracts of land at Rs 4 lakh per acre from local farmers, Naidu awarded the contract to Itasca Software, a company run by Srinivas. When the government acquired 325 acres later, it was at prices ranging from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 60 lakh per acre.

The Lokayukta probe found that Itasca Software had received Rs 250 crore as share capital from a second firm, United Telecom Company, which was looking to invest in the SEZ. Of the share capital, nearly Rs 87 crore was transferred to an alleged front company of the Naidu family, Indu Builders and Developers. On March 10 this year, Justice Pradeep Waingankar of HC acquitted Srinivas on the ground that Itasca had not gained anything from the land transaction. Based on that order, Naidu moved a memo seeking his own discharge, followed by his discharge by Justice Anand Byrareddy.