ACB raids government officials across Karnataka

Among the 21 government officials raided by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Friday in a sweeping corruption crackdown, one name stood out: Shivalingaiah.

What puzzled many was that Shivalingaiah, listed as a gardener in the Banashankari office of the Bangalore Development Authority and earning a monthly salary of Rs 48,000, owns four lavish houses in Bengaluru, one site in Dodda Kallasandra , 510 grams of gold jewelry, 700 grams of silver items, an agricultural land of one acre and nine gunta at Channapatna taluk, three cars, several two-wheelers, Rs 80,000 in cash, a bank balance of Rs 80,000 and Rs 10 lakh of home appliances.

Many refused to believe that a gardener, whose job profile included caring for plants and trees at the BDA office, could be so wealthy, even illegally.

It appeared, however, that Shivalingaiah was only a gardener on paper. He was transferred from the horticulture department of the BDA years ago and started working as a labor inspector under an assistant executive engineer in Banashankari. Its designation, however, has not changed. He is due to retire this month, a BDA source said.

A Labor Inspector is a non-technical Group C position and is responsible for the first level of quality control of BDA work.

Curiously, two retired civil servants were also searched.

Among them is Dr K Janardhan, a retired Registrar (Assessment) from Bengaluru North University. Besides a house, two sites and three apartments in Bangalore, he runs a school in Bangaru Palya in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. He also owns seven acres and 30 guntas of farmland in Chittoor, 401 grams of gold jewelry, 3.575 grams of silver items, four cars, three two-wheelers, Rs 3.17 lakh in cash and Rs 17.8 lakh household items. His son is said to be building a restaurant in Bengaluru’s affluent Kasturba Road while his wife heads the Telugu department at Bangalore University.

The second retired civil servant is Manjunath G, Superintendent Engineer in the Department of Public Works.

In Bangalore, two other officials were also raided. They were Madhusudan V, District Registrar, Inspector General of Registration, and Dr Siddappa, Deputy Chief Inspector of Electricity.

Bagalkot Regional Transport Officer (RTO), Yallappa Padasali, was also searched. He owns two houses in Dharwad district, one in Koppal, one site in Hubballi and three business complexes in Dharwad district among other assets.

According to the ACB, the raids were carried out by 555 officials who divided into 80 teams.

Uma Prashant, Superintendent of Police (Administration), ACB, said the raids would continue on Saturday at the premises of some officials as the drill ended in Bangalore.

Interior Minister Araga Jnanendra said the raids were carried out for a “clean and corruption-free administration”.

“After a raid, officials have to provide accounts and prove where they got the money and wealth from. It takes time. It won’t be decided on the day of the raid. They also have the option to go into justice. So trials will be done. It takes years. The attempt is to give the officers a shock,” he added.

On March 16, the ACB raided 77 locations linked to 18 government agents.

Possession of huge assets does not necessarily mean that they were acquired illegally. If a charge is established in the preliminary investigation, the ACB releases the officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The next step is to seek approval from the respective government to pursue them. It could be a tedious process. Many officials are eventually absolved of corruption charges and reinstated.

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