The Karnataka High Court on Monday stayed further investigation as well proceedings before a special court against three former principal secretaries of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department (RDPR) in a case of alleged misappropriation of funds in National Rural Drinking Water Programme. Justice M Nagaprasanna passed the interim order and ordered notice to respondents.
The special court after taking cognizance on the private complaint filed by one S Narayanswamy on April 18, 2022 had directed Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to hold an inquiry under Section 202 of the CrPC in order to ascertain the allegations. The inquiry was ordered against retired IAS officers Amita Prasad, T M Vijay Bhaskar (retired chief secretary), former principal secretary of RDPR E V Raman Reddy, retired IAS officer and additional secretary to RDPR department Bore Gowda, the then deputy secretary Ramakrishna and Geelam Giri, the then assistant general manager of Syndicate Bank (Now Canara Bank).
The petition was moved before the High Court by Amita Prasad, T M Vijay Bhaskar and E V Raman Reddy challenging the proceedings before the special court and inquiry ordered by the court.
The petition contended that there is bar in taking cognizance of offences in the absence of sanction as per Section 197 of CrPC. It was also contended that the alleged bank accounts were opened much prior to any of the petitioners taking charge as principal secretary to the RDPR department.
The complainant alleged that the misappropriation happened in the funds allotted for the purpose of Karnataka Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (KRWSSA). While as per the rules only one fixed deposit account was to be maintained for the purpose, the officials involved in the irregularities entered into a conspiracy and opened hundreds of accounts. The complainant stated that this caused loss in the form of interest by shuffling it in other accounts.