BENGALURU: An assistant commissioner of police has been acquitted by the Special Court in a disproportionate assets case registered by the Karnataka Lokayukta police 17 years ago because of non-application of mind by investigation officers (IOs) to establish the charges, especially the acquisition of benami properties.
GT Ajjappa, who was ACP of the Vidhana Soudha Sub-Division, was accused of possessing disproportionate assets worth Rs 86 lakh, accounting for 156.87%, in 2007.
“Merely because the accused purchased many properties both movable and immovable, which according to the prosecution in the different persons’ name, cannot be branded as criminal misconduct because these allegations require proof beyond reasonable doubt,” said Judge SV Srikanth in a 250-page order, pointing out major loopholes in the investigation by two IOs.
Referring to the IOs -- Prasanna V Raju and K C Lakshminrayana -- then Lokayukta police inspectors, the court said both committed a grave mistake in not properly considering the annual income first and net income from 1997 to 2007 of Ajjappa’s agricultural and horticultural income. The court noted that DySP UD Krishnakumar, who conducted further investigation, was not allowed to look into the statements recorded by IOs, as the ADGP directed him to affix his signature only on the chargesheet submitted in 2010.
Prasanna, being a star witness, admitted that except for collecting documents, he had not done any investigation, the court added. It also stated that most of IOs’ probe revolved around the information and documents given by the accused, but they did not consider the Annual Property Returns (APR) and Income Tax Returns (ITR) of the accused seriously.
IOs should have held separate investigations. For verifying APRs and ITRs of public servants, IOs should possess special skills and take the investigation in a particular direction but which has not taken place… Most of the investigation ended up in the collection of documents from various departments and institutions and nothing else, the court said.
As long as the inputs or the calculations arrived at by the IOs are not on a sound basis, any calculation furnished can only amount to guesswork and then any type of evidence tendered by the prosecution cannot be considered as legal evidence, it said.