Updated: May 27, 2022 8:35:05 am
After the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a chargesheet against DK Shivakumar in a Delhi court on Thursday, nearly three years after he was arrested by the central agency in a money-laundering case, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president said that it should have been done much earlier and alleged a “political agenda” by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) without naming it.
Shivakumar was arrested by the ED in September 2019 in connection with the case on the basis of an Income Tax department investigation of his wealth that was conducted between 2017 and 2018.
“I have heard that they have filed a chargesheet. It seems to have been submitted to a court (in Delhi). We have not received a copy. A copy will be provided. Normally the chargesheet should have been filed within 60 days of my arrest,” Shivakumar said on Thursday.
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“They have now investigated the matter for three years and have filed a chargesheet. It should have been done earlier itself. They cannot create anything new. The IT department created a lot of things earlier that were in contravention of Supreme Court rulings,” he added.
The chargesheet has been filed in the run-up to the 2023 Karnataka Legislative Assembly elections, where Shivakumar is expected to play a central role as the state Congress chief, and polls for four seats in the Rajya Sabha next month, where his party and the BJP are expected to fight for the fourth seat.
“This is being done with a political agenda. During the election of Ahmed Patel (to Rajya Sabha in August 2017 ), they raided my home and linked the income of some of my friends to me. I wish them all success,” the state Congress chief said.
“Their (referring to the BJP) politics is about finishing off rivals they perceive as a political threat. Their demand is that we should join them, surrender to them or they will finish us off. They do not show mercy to their own party members so will they show any mercy to our party (Congress) members. They are using all the weapons in their arsenal,” he said.
Shivakumar said that he has full belief in the justice system in the country. “There is a legal system in the country. There is the law of the land – there is justice, ethics, truth and dharma and I have faith in these things. I know I have not done anything wrong, the state knows it and the country knows it,” he said.
The ED’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case against Shivakumar has origins in Income Tax searches carried out between August 2, 2017, and August 5, 2017, at some 70 premises linked to him, who was then the energy minister in the Congress government in Karnataka.
The Income Tax searches were carried out even as Shivakumar was protecting a flock of 42 Congress MLAs from Gujarat in a resort near Bengaluru in an attempt to help senior party leader Ahmed Patel win the Rajya Sabha polls that were scheduled on August 8, amid alleged poaching attempts by the BJP.
Based on the searches in 2017, the Income Tax department filed a complaint of tax evasion and false evidence against Shivakumar in 2018, and specifically the finding of Rs 8.59 crore in cash at four Delhi properties linked to associates.
Based on the Income Tax probe, the ED registered a case against Shivakumar in 2018 and he was arrested by the agency on September 3, 2019, before being ordered to be released from the Tihar jail on bail on October 23, 2019, by the Delhi High Court.
In the course of bail proceedings in 2019, the ED indicated that the probe against Shivakumar and his associates had found “unaccounted cash transaction(s) and its laundering running into at least Rs 143 crore”.
On March 11, 2020, the Congress high command appointed Shivakumar as the president of the Karnataka unit of the party in what was widely seen as a reward for his loyalty to party leaders over the years. One of the angles of the ED and IT investigations against him was his alleged funding of the Congress party through resources generated by him.
The CBI also registered a corruption case against Shivakumar following the 2017 Income Tax probe which alleged that the Congress leader had amassed Rs 74.93 crore of wealth, disproportionate to known sources of income during the period from April 2013 to April 2018 when he was a minister in the Congress government Karnataka. The CBI case against him is still under investigation.
Shivakumar reported a massive Rs 589 crore increase in his wealth (from Rs 251 crore to Rs 840 crore) over a five-year period between 2013 and 2018 in an affidavit filed at the time of his nomination for the 2018 Karnataka Assembly polls. The Congress leader has attributed the growth in his family wealth to his businesses, ranging from mining to real estate.
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