Supreme Court agrees to hear Karnataka Lokayukta plea against interim bail granted to BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear an application filed by the Karnataka Lokayukta against the Karnataka High Court granting interim anticipatory bail to BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa in a bribery case.
The matter was mentioned for urgent hearing before Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud, who agreed to list the same on Friday. However, the Counsel appearing for Karnataka Lokayukta sought an earlier date.
The CJI then told him that he was heading a Constitution Bench hearing today and asked the Counsel to mention the matter before Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul (second senior-most judge in the Supreme Court).
The Counsel then mentioned the matter before Justice Kaul. After questioning the urgency, Justice Kaul directed for listing of the matter ‘as early as possible,’ without specifying any date.
Earlier on March 7, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice K. Natarajan had granted interim anticipatory bail to Virupakshappa, who was arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
While granting bail to the BJP leader on a personal bond of Rs five lakh, the High Court had directed him not to enter the office of Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd (KSDL) till further orders.
Virupakshappa was serving as the Chairman of KSDL, but resigned after his son V. Prashanth Madal was allegedly caught red-handed by the Lokayukta while accepting illegal gratification of Rs 40 lakh in relation with a contract.
The High Court directed the BJP leader to co-operate with the investigation and surrender before the police within 48 hours of receipt of the order.
It further directed the prosecution to file its statement of objections to the plea and posted the matter for further hearing on March 17.
A petition was filed in the High Court on March 6 by Advocates Sandeep Patil and Swamini G. Mohanambal on behalf of Virupakshappa, alleging that the entire exercise of filing a complaint and registering an FIR was wholly illegal and malafide, done with the intention of harassing the petitioner.
As per the lawyers, none of the ingredients to make the said offences were present in the FIR registered under Sections 7(a) & (b), 7(A) 8, 9 & 10 of the Prevention of Corruption (Amended) Act, 2018.
According to case details, a complaint was lodged before the Lokayuktha Police alleging that Virupakshappa demanded illegal gratification to process a certain tender in Karnataka Soaps & Detergents Ltd (KSDL).
The Lokayuktha Police had registered an FIR against Virupakshappa on the basis of a complaint alleging that the BJP leader had demanded illegal gratification to process a certain tender in KSDL.
V. Prashanth Madal, son of the BJP leader, along with other accused, were allegedly caught red-handed, accepting an illegal gratification of Rs 40 lakh. The complaint further alleged that over Rs eight crore was recovered by Lokayukta from the MLA’s son.
Virupakshappa contended in his petition that the complaint and the FIR did not mention any specific allegation against the petitioner to have taken the alleged illegal gratification.
Mere recovery of money from Accused No 2 (Virupakshappa’s son) bereft of any material showing illegal or corrupt means or abuse of official function, would not be sufficient cause to register and maintain proceedings under the alleged offences of the PC Act, it added.
Virupakshappa further told the court that he was a person of good repute and a law abiding citizen of the country. He had deep roots in the society and therefore, there could be no apprehension of his fleeing from justice, he added.