BENGALURU: The Special Court for Economic Offences on Saturday granted bail to Medical Education and Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar and three others in connection with a criminal case registered by the Income Tax Department for alleged evasion of tax and filing of false tax returns. The first accused is Shivakumar, who was present in the court for the hearing of the bail petitions. The three other accused are Sunil Kumar Sharma, proprietor of Sharma Transports; Anjaneya, Assistant Liaison Officer at Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi and N Rajendra, a retired caretaker of Karnataka Bhavan.
The court imposed conditions that the accused should furnish `25,000 cash surety and execute bonds for `1 lakh each and not tamper with evidence. During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Prabhuling K Navadgi argued that the assessment proceedings were initiated by the investigating officers, and the accused Shivakumar is required for investigation as he has no explanation for `12.33 crore cash seized from a flat in New Delhi during a raid conducted by the I-T Department in 2017. He also pointed out the conditions to be imposed if bail is granted to the accused, while mentioning that liquor baron Vijay Mallya had fled the country.
The counsel for Shivakumar objected to this, questioning how his client can flee the country as he is a minister. He also pointed out that separate civil proceedings can be initiated under the I-T Act and summons can be issued if the accused does not appear before the investigating officer.
Navadgi also asked the court to impose a condition that the accused should not issue public statements regarding the case, saying that it will affect the investigation and fair trial. The judge then queried as to how this court can impose such conditions. In reply, Navadgi said it is not right to issue statements when the case is pending before the court.
The counsel for other three accused Sharma, Anjaneya and Rajendra argued that the case is one of the series of cases registered against them. The chargesheet has been filed and assessment proceedings are yet to be completed. The offences under the Indian Penal Code registered against the accused are bailable in nature, they contended. Among the five accused, the Karnataka High Court had stayed the proceedings initiated by the I-T Department before the Special Court against Sachin Narayan, a business associate of Shivakumar.