Although the Vinay Kumar report was submitted over a year ago, the Anti-Corruption Bureau is yet to file a chargesheet.

VIP treatment in Bengaluru prison Is ACB dragging its feet on corruption charges
news Crime Thursday, January 24, 2019 - 11:09

The Karnataka Anti-Corruption Bureau, which reports to the Chief Minister’s office and has been probing allegations of a quid pro quo between high profile prisoners lodged at the Bengaluru Central Prison and jail officials for over than a year, seems to have made no major headway.

An officer within the ACB told TNM: “Investigations are underway. The chargesheet is yet to be filed”. The officer added that they are not authorised to speak to the media on the matter, except for IGP Chandrasekhar. IGP Chandrasekhar could not be reached for his comment.

This, over a year after retired IAS officer Vinay Kumar submitting his report to the Karnataka government, substantiating the charges made by then DIG (Prisons) D Roopa. In her report, Roopa had alleged that a bribe of Rs 2 crore was paid to unnamed officials for special treatment to VK Sasikala and other high profile prisoners like Abdul Karim Telgi, the late kingpin of the fake stamp paper case. The report, which was with the government and the ACB, was made public very recently.

TNM has learned that notices were served to those suspected to be involved in the alleged Rs 2 crore deal only this month. VG Pugazhendi, a Bengaluru-based functionary of the AMMK, the TTV Dhinakaran-led offshoot of the AIADMK, is one of the people who has been issued a notice, and has been asked to appear in the ACB’s office.

The ACB, which was tasked with finishing the probe based on the Vinay Kumar report, had only registered an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act against then-DGP (Prisons) HNS Rao and jail officials including Krishna Kumar and Anitha, who were the subsequent jail superintendents.

According to a source, ACB officials have not even visited the jail premises even once. The source also claimed that even Roopa, who blew the lid off on this, had not been called for recording her statement.

An RTI activist and lawyer at the Karnataka High Court, who has followed the developments closely, claimed that he has been denied information under an exception stated in Section 8(1)h of the RTI Act.

Former Lokayukta and Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde, who was responsible for the resignation of BS Yeddyurappa as the CM in 2011, slammed the government’s inaction.

“The government is bound to take action. If they keep quiet, this means they are hand-in-glove with what was happening there. You cannot hold only the politicians responsible. Officials of the Home Ministry must also be held responsible. This also shows how departments function under political authority,” Justice Hegde told TNM.

“There are clear cut allegations of favouritism based on a bribe. Roopa had alleged that a huge amount of money exchanged hands, including that of ADGP Prisons. Somebody can file a Public Interest Litigation questioning the inaction of the government. A petition may be filed at a court under Article 226 of the Constitution as the Executive has failed to exercise its duty,” he added.