Belagavi: Two senior Karnataka government officials were suspended today in connection with the searches conducted by the Income Tax Department on their premises as part of the country-wide operation that has resulted in the biggest-ever seizure of cash in new currency.
Bowing to the Opposition demand in the Karnataka Legislative Council, now in session here, Home Minister G Parameshwara announced the action against senior engineers T N Chikkarayappa and S C Jayachandra who had come on the radar of tax sleuths along with two contractors here.
Chikkarayappa is Managing Director of Cauvery Neeravari Nigama (irrigation corporation) and Jayachandra, Chief Project Officer of the State Highway Development Project.
The government would decide on the next step after a probe and getting information from the IT Department, Parameshwara said, adding, none would be protected and the guilty would be punished according to law.
He also said it was not proper to link one official as being close to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and the other to Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa, pointing out that they had worked for previous governments also.
Over 50 I-T sleuths and police personnel had conducted the operations and searched premises in Bengaluru, Chennai and Erode (Tamil Nadu) with the Department today saying the seizure of cash in new currency was over Rs five crore.
IT officials today said the cash found, after searches were launched yesterday on the premises of two engineers and two contractors, has risen to Rs 5.7 crore and these notes are in the denomination of the new currency of Rs 2,000.
“Total admission of unaccounted income by the group stands at Rs 152 crore. Investigations are on,” they said in New Delhi.
Parameshwara said it was puzzling as to “from where Rs 4.7 crore came (in cash in new currency). It must have come from the bank only. How did they get it … from which bank.”
He said the IT department should now find out as to how “so much money reached them” and take action after completing the relevant process.
As the Council met, Opposition BJP and JD(S) members rushed to the well of the House alleging that government was protecting corrupt officers by not suspending them forthwith.
Opposition BJP leader K S Eshwarappa raised the issue and said the state government had not taken any action against the two officials though the matter had come to the fore and demanded their immediate suspension pending inquiry. JDS’ Basavaraj Horatti also insisted on their suspension.
Parameshwara later told the House that he had discussed the matter with the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary and announced the suspension.