Engineers indicted in siphoning off crores from works in their jurisdiction
With the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) filing a series of charge sheets in the multi-crore bogus bill scam reported in 2011 in the three sub-divisions of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), many of those indicted — including three senior engineers and a couple of contractors — have now knocked on the doors of the Karnataka High Court challenging the charge sheet.
B.G. Prakash, Ideya Vendan and C. Narayan, executive engineers of Malleswaram, Gandhinagar and Rajarajeshwarinagar sub-divisions respectively, are among the petitioners who have questioned the CID charge sheet.
The charge sheet indicts them of conniving with civil contractors and making payments by creating bogus bills and others documents, thus siphoning off hundreds of crores in the civil works executed in the areas under their jurisdiction.
T.N. Bettaswamaiah, G.R. Kumar, N.S. Revannna, from BBMP’s Malleswaram engineering department; Radhakrishnaiah A.R. Ramesh from Gandhinagar engineering department; and L.K. Shivanand, B.P. Paramesh, S.B. Suresh and G.S. Lokesha, of Rajarajeshwari engineering department are the others, all in the rank of assistant executive engineers, assistant engineers and junior engineers, who have questioned the charge sheet.
M. Nagesh, L. Mahesh, T.G. Suresh, K.S. Bharath Kumar, M. Manjunath, C.P. Umesha, N.C. Nagaraj, G.S. Shivaswamy, all civil contractors, who have been arraigned as accused along with the engineers in the charge sheet, have also challenged their indictment.
According to the accused, the registration of the case in the police station of Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) was without the authority of law as BMTF police have no jurisdiction over inquiring into offences under Indian Penal Code when they are not connected with the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act.
Moreover, they have contended that the State government, which in November 2011 had handed over the probe to the CID, had asked the agency to probe the allegations of scam and submit a report to the government. The accused claim that the government neither authorised the CID to file a charge sheet nor gave any sanction for the prosecution of the engineers.
24 charge sheets
It has been contented by counsel for the accused that the CID has so far filed about 24 charge sheets and is expected to file more when it completes investigations based on the works allotted in different wards under these three sub-divisions.
Advocate-General S. Vijay Shankar argued that the scam was of a large scale and all the contentions raised by the accused will have to be first addressed before the trial court as per Section 239 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The accused could approach the High Court only if the trial court refuses to discharge and frames charges against them based on the charges levelled against them in the charge sheet.
Prominent charges levelled against them are of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, criminal breach of trust, falsification of accounts, and for violation of the provisions of the Karnataka transparency in Public Procurement Act.
Justice K. Bhakthavatsala, before whom the petitions came up for hearing, has adjourned further hearing to Monday.