On Wednesday, the Karnataka High Court directed the Banashankari police and IDBI Bank to defreeze the joint bank account held by badminton champion Prakash Padukone and his family.
In return, Padukone was directed to pay a Rs 20 lakh bond before the city sessions court, which is currently hearing a case involving Vikram Investments - a firm that got embroiled in the Ponzi scheme earlier in March this year, TOI reported.
At least 800 people, including prominent sportspersons, film professionals and doctors, were cheated in the scam. The firm’s owner, Ragavendra Srinath, and his associates, Narasimha Murthy, Prahalada, KC Nagaraj, and Sutram Suresh, were arrested when the scandal came to light. The case was filed against the firm by a businessman, PR Balaji, owner of the Balaji Agarbathi Company.
Police claim that Padukone and his family received a sum of Rs 20 lakhs in excess of the investment they made in Vikram Investments. Counsel for the family informed the HC that they were ready to pay an amount of Rs 19 lakhs, after which Justice Raghvendra S Chauhan passed the order.
“Prima facie, there is no allegation made by Balaji (the complainant) against the petitioner. In fact, Balaji doesn’t even name the present petitioner in the complaint filed with the police. The Rs 19 lakh may belong to either Balaji or other investors. This court is of the opinion that unless there is a strong suspicion against the petitioner, police wouldn’t be justified in freezing their account. For, it adversely affects the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the court observed.
Additional Advocate General (AAG) AS Ponnanna had earlier informed the court that Padukone had obtained Rs 40 lakh against the Rs 21 lakh he had invested. A sum of Rs 400 crore had been invested by 1,500 people, of which only Rs 350 crore had been repaid. Additionally, only 500 investors received more than they had initially invested including Padukone.
The AAG further alleged that the firm had collected money without investing it, instead depositing it into the accounts of different individuals, including Padukone. He noted that 140 accounts had been frozen as a result.
The counsel for the Padukones denied any wrongdoing from the family’s side, citing that there was no oral or documentary evidence to prove any relationship between the family and the alleged offences committed by the company. The counsel further complained that the freezing of Padukone’s account was “too drastic”.
The account was frozen on March 16, following directions by the Banashankari police, which reportedly came as a shock to the family. Padukone further claimed that he had withdrawn his investment the same month on the advice of an investment agent he consulted.