KIADB scam: Lokayukta to appoint exclusive prosecutor

KIADB scam: Lokayukta to appoint exclusive prosecutor

As the Special Lokayukta Court gets ready to begin hearing on the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) scam involving former minister Katta Subramanya Naidu, the Lokayukta police are in the process of appointing a new Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) to handle this case alone.

The Lokayukta police in July 2011 had submitted a charge sheet to the Court against Katta Subramanya Naidu and his son Katta Jagadish for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 87 crore to allot 325 acres of land to Itasca Software Development Company.
The charge sheet also names Itasca’s Managing Director S V Srinivas, partners in Katta’s benami company Indu Developers -Venkaiah and Jaggaiah - Managing Director of United Telecom Company C Basavapoornaiah, retired KAS officer T P Muninarayanappa, BBMP corporator M Gopi and Bandikodigehalli Gram Panchayat member B K Manju.

In April, the Special Lokayukta Court dismissed a discharge application filed by Katta Subramanya Naidu and others and ordered framing of charges against all accused. However, the case has not moved much as the Lokayukta, in a bizarre decision, decided to replace the existing SPP K K Seetaram with H G Banakar who had just a month before his retirement. Now, the Lokayukta is likely to appoint another SPP Suresh Bhat for the existing cases of Lokayukta Police (Urban).

In a departure from tradition, the Lokayukta is said to have decided to appoint K R Ramachandra as an advocate to handle the cases pertaining to KIADB scam. This case was one of the first high profile cases taken up by the Lokayukta police which eventually forced Katta Subramanya to resign.

Around 30 cases have been registered in connection with the scam including the one against Katta Jagadish who was trapped by the Lokayukta police while offering a bribe to a witness in the case. The documents in the case run into more than 25,000 pages. Sources in the Lokayukta said as the regular SPP has to handle around 350 cases, it would be impossible to give complete attention to this case alone.

According to the source, two other advocates already turned the offer down, before K R Ramachandra gave his assent to handling the case.

The case

In 2006, Itasca Software sought 325 acres of land from the then JD(S)-BJP coalition government to set up a special economic zone. The application was made through Katta Jagadish, Vasanthanagar corporator, to the Karnataka Udyog Mitra.

Despite several shortcomings in the application, then Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu instructed that the application be tabled before a high-powered committee led by the chief  minister. Accordingly, the application was accepted and the government issued an order for allotment of 325 acres in Bandikodigehalli village.

The Lokayukta police have detected largescale irregularities during the time the KIADB was asked to acquire land for Itasca. Sources say that the evidence submitted points to the fact that the money was paid to Katta and his son through Indu Developers, a proxy company of the Katta family.

Indu Developers was floated in the names of Venkaiah, Jaggaiah and Srinivasmurthy who worked in a petrol bunk owned by Katta Naidu’s wife Sowbhagya. The company has the same address as the petrol bunk. Some of the cheques issued by the KIADB to the farmers were also routed to the banks via Indu Developers. Venkaiah and Jaggaiah forged the signatures of land owners on open cheques issued in the name of land owners and withdrew large amounts of money. They are also accused of getting consent letters from the land owners by threatening the owners that they would get false cases registered against them and warning them of dire consequences.

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