BENGALURU: The Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has filed a prosecution complaint (PC) against the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President DK Shivakumar and others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 before a special court in New Delhi in a 2019 case against the Congress stalwart. According to informed sources, the court, after taking cognisance of the complaint and the investigation conducted by the ED, will now frame charges and the trial will commence thereafter.
Reacting to the development, Shivakumar said, “I have not done anything wrong. I have full faith in the courts and in the legal system. Besides politics, what else is there in the chargesheet?” he asked. The chargesheet has come at a time, when the Congress party is gearing up for Karnataka Assembly elections in 2023 and the polls for four seats in the Rajya Sabha next month, where Congress and the BJP are expected to fight for the fourth seat.
Shivakumar is getting battleready to play a key role in both the elections as the KPCC President. “Depending on the trial, the court may acquit him or hold him guilty. In case of acquittal his assets that have been provisionally attached by the adjudicating authority under Prevention of Money Laundering Act will be released,” said informed sources.
DKS can be barred from fighting polls
The sources added, “If the prosecution is able to satisfy the court and is able to prove that his assets are proceeds of crime and the court holds him guilty, then it can order that the attached assets be given to the government.” Section 4 of the PML Act — on offence of money laundering — states that “whoever commits the offence of money laundering shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term, which shall not be less than three years but which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine, which may extend to five lakh rupees,” the anti money laundering law states.
As per Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, if a person is convicted of any offence and sentenced to an imprisonment of two years or more, this will be disqualification to contest elections. Whether an adverse court order would stall his political career is however, not clear.
“In case of an adverse sentence from the trial court the accused has every right to go in appeal against an adverse order by the trial court before the appellate court and try and get a stay on his conviction and the operation of the order of conviction,” said informed sources. Shivakumar was on September 3, 2019 arrested by the ED, New Delhi, under the PMLA in connection with alleged tax evasion and hawala transactions. He was enlarged on bail on October 24 the same year.
IMPRISONMENT OPTION OPEN, SAYS EXPERT
“Provisions under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act are also penal provisions. Under this, the court can impose punishment of imprisonment. Wherever the person is convicted under the provisions of this Act will be barred from contesting elections under the Representation of the People Act,” said Advocate PN Hegde.