The Supreme Court issued notice on Monday in a lawsuit brought by the Central Bureau of inquiry (CBI) contesting the Karnataka High Court’s decision to halt an inquiry into Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar in a disproportionate assets case.
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Despite the central agency’s strong objections, the court refused to stay the challenged ruling ex parte. A bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Bela M Trivedi refused to stay the hc’s decision challenged by the CBI, issuing a notice.
The controversy involving DK Shivakumar began in August 2017 when the Income Tax Department raided him.
At the time, Shivakumar was protecting 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat in a resort outside Bengaluru, anticipating BJP poaching attempts ahead of a Rajya Sabha poll.
The Income Tax authorities, along with armed central police forces, visited the resort on August 2, 2017, and conducted searches at 67 places worldwide associated with Shivakumar, his family, and associates. The Income Tax Department reported finding at least 9 crore in unaccounted cash and properties worth crores for further inquiry.
Based on the Income Tax chargesheet, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) launched a money laundering investigation against Shivakumar in 2018.
Shivakumar was investigated by the CBI about ten days after being questioned by ED agents.
The CBI sought permission from the state government to file an FIR against the Congress state president based on the results of the ED’s inquiry. The sentence was issued on September 25, 2019, and Shivakumar was formally charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act on October 3, 2020.
He was imprisoned in Tihar Jail in September 2019, but was granted conditional bail by the Delhi High Court a few weeks later.
Shivakumar has frequently criticised the CBI’s tactics, calling them “mental harassment” and questioning their timing, especially in the run-up to the Karnataka Assembly elections.
He argues that the CBI is exerting unwarranted pressure through the repeated issuance of notices, despite the case having its origins in 2020.
In April, Justice K Natarajan of the Karnataka High Court dismissed Shivakumar’s request, prompting the legislator to file an appeal with the high court’s division bench. Shivakumar’s appeal is now being heard by a bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice MG S Kamal. The ruling of the single-judge bench was stayed in June by the Karnataka HC’s division bench.
Court Case Hearing
ASG Raju, appearing for the investigating agency, told the bench that 90 percent of the inquiry in the matter is already complete, and requested the bench to stay the high court order stopping the investigation.
The Karnataka High Court halted the state government’s authorization for an inquiry into an alleged graft and disproportionate assets case involving Shivakumar.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela M Trivedi was hearing a special leave petition filed by the CBI against a June 2023 order of the Karnataka High Court temporarily staying the state government’s sanction granted to investigate the Congress leader’s role in a corruption case involving allegations of disproportionate assets. Despite the central agency’s strong objections, the court refused to stay the challenged ruling ex parte. “They are not staying it ex-parte,” Justice Bose stated as Additional Solicitor General (ASG) SV Raju urged the bench to stay the high court verdict.
According to Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, 90% of the CBI’s probe is complete, but it cannot continue due to the high court’s interim stay order. He requested the bench to stay the contested order, but the bench refused, stating that it could not give an ex-parte stay.
The Supreme Court has asked Shivakumar to respond by November 7.