A special court in Mandla, a tribal-dominated district 400 km east of Bhopal, sentenced Indian Administrative Service officer Shashi Karnawat to five years rigorous imprisonment and fined her Rs. 50 lakh for corruption, forgery and criminal conspiracy.
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) found evidence that Ms. Karnawat, currently a Deputy Secretary in the Sports Department, submitted fake stationery bills to the tune of Rs. 34 lakh when she was the Chief Executive Officer of the district panchayat in 1999- 2000.
Three others were also sentenced for five years and fined amounts ranging from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh. Special Public Prosecutor H.L. Badgiya said that Special Judge Rajeev Karmahe sent Ms. Karnawat to jail as the EOW report left no doubt of her guilt and the charges were serious. “The officer purchased stationery without inviting tenders and falsified the inventory,” he said.
Mr. Justice Karmahe was in the news in 2007 when he charged speaker Ishwardas Rohani and Ministers Ajay Vishnoi and Moti Kashyap with rioting, in a 1985 case of attacking a police station in Jabalpur.
‘BJP will pay for it’
Ms. Karnawat told reporters, before she went behind bars, that she was being framed as part of a conspiracy. “Senior IAS officers have framed me. They are shielding the corrupt. I will fight for justice till my death. The BJP will pay for its sins and will not return for a third time.”
Ms. Karnawat is a Dalit officer, who was promoted to the IAS from the State Civil Service. In 2012, she had written to Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan alleging discrimination on the basis of her caste and gender.
In the same year, Ujjain’s Additional Commissioner Ramesh Thete, an acclaimed Marathi lyricist, had approached the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes alleging that he was being victimised. Mr. Thete was arrested in 2002 for bribery and later acquitted by the High Court and reinstated by the Supreme Court. His wife Manda Thete is being probed for cheating and forgery by the Lokayukt.