Lokayukta cops raid Eshwarappa's premises

Rs 10.9 lakh, 1.9 kg gold, 37 kg silver seized

Lokayukta cops raid Eshwarappa's premises

In an early morning operation, the Lokayukta Police on Monday conducted simultaneous raids on the houses and offices of Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa to go through documents related to properties owned by him and his family.

The Lokayukta police, who searched his houses in Bangalore, Shimoga and six other offices and business premises in Shimoga, were acting on a directive by the Special Lokayukta court to probe the charge that Eshwarappa had amassed properties disproportionate to his known sources of income. The police have so far seized  Rs 10,90,000 in cash, 1.9 kg gold and 37 kg silver.

Acting on a complaint filed by B Vinod, an advocate in Shimoga, the Special Lokayukta Court had on December 15 ordered the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Lokayukta to investigate into the matter. The Lokayukta Police, Shimoga had subsequently registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The search covered educational institutions and business establishments belonging to the deputy chief minister and his family.  Documents pertaining to the properties and other business establishment stated in the complaint are being verified. Further searches are being conducted.

A source in the Lokayukta police said the six offices and business premises raided included two institutions and a travel company, which they believe is ‘owned’ by Eshwarappa and two stamp-vendors.

In Shimoga, the police raided, Gundappa Shed’s Jayalakshmi Nivasa, Pace College in Gondichattanahalli, Nandan Education Society in By-pass road, Vasavadatta Cement agency in Tilak Nagar, AM Traders in JSKM Road.  Eshwarappa’s associate and stamp vendor Somashekhar’s house in Mission Compound Layout was also raided.  The police also raided another stamp vendor Ravi’s house in Vinobha Nagar and Mandi Mahesh’s house in Ashok Road.  In Bangalore, Jayalakshmi Eshwarappa’s house in Chakravarthi Layout in Vasanthnagar was searched.

During the raid, the police procured documents related to 18 trusts and societies belonging to Eshwarappa, son K E Kantesh and daughter-in-law Shalini.  Documents related to purchase of land in important locations in Shimoga in the trust’s names were procured.  The police have also found documents related to purchase of land, transport business and investments, and a bank pass book which had details about various investments made.

The police have registered an FIR, marking the formal launch of the police probe against Eshwarappa, his son K E Kantesh and daughter-in-law Shalini. Eshwarappa, who had dismissed suggestions for his resignation from the Cabinet seeking a fair probe into the matter, has however, sought an anticipatory from a Shimoga court. “The hearing of the bail petitions filed by his and his family members would resume on December 27,” a source said.

He had last week said that it was not fair on the part of the Opposition to ask him to resign as the probe was ordered based on a private complaint.

Lokayukta ADGP Satyanarayana Rao told Deccan Herald that the Lokayukta police were acting on the direction of the court and there was no need for any additional special permit to conduct the search.  He said a search warrant was issued by the court and the Lokayukta Police have not violated any laws.

“Based on the reliable complaint, the Lokayukta Special Judge would have directed the Lokayukta police raided the places,” said Justice Hegde.

He added that an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police alone should probe the case. He clarified further that the police cannot file charge sheet on their own but they have to seek the permission of the Governor.

Eshwarappa has welcomed the kokayukta police raids on his houses. He has hoped for a speedy trial into the disproportionate assets case, so that the people of the State get to know the truth. He told reporters in Koppal that he would come out unscathed from the episode. Eshwarappa said action would be taken against BJP legislators who took part in the Yeddyurappa-led KJP convention in the first week of January. The party would release a list of 150 candidates for the Assembly polls in the third week of January, he added.
Siddaramaiah, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, has demanded that Eshwarappa should tender his resignation.

Speaking to mediapersons here at Mangalore airport on Monday,  he said that the Congress demanded his resignation even when the Lokayukta Court filed an FIR against him.

“He should resign from the post of deputy chief minister as well as the State president of the BJP, to facilitate impartial probe into the case,” Siddaramaiah added. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar in Mudhol on Monday said that Eshwarappa need not resign from the post of deputy chief minister and said a decision on the future course of action would be taken after receiving the court verdict.

“Eshwarappa has already welcomed the raids and expressed confidence that the truth will come out soon. The State unit is confident that he (Eshwarappa) will come clean of all charges,” the party stated in a release.

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