Mysore Sandal scam: 'Bribe giver, taker equally susceptible for prosecution,' says Karnataka HC
Prashanth is the son of Madal Virupakshappa, the then BJP MLA and chairman of Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited, the manufacturer of Mysore Sandal soap
The High Court of Karnataka has rejected two petitions filed by the alleged "bribe givers" in the Mysore Sandal scam, saying it is high time the menace of corruption is plugged and nipped in the bud "by making the bribe giver susceptible for such prosecution, like the bribe taker".
Justice M Nagaprasanna, in his judgement dated June 26, rejected a petition filed by Kailash S Raj, Vinay S Raj and Chetan Marlecha, the owners of Ms Karnataka Aromas Company, and another petition by Albert Nicolas and Gangadhar, who were found with cash of Rs 45 lakh each in the office of Prashanth Kumar MV, the then finance adviser and chief controller of accounts in BWSSB.
Prashanth is the son of Madal Virupakshappa, the then BJP MLA and chairman of Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited, the manufacturer of Mysore Sandal soap.
After a complaint against Virupakshappa, the Lokayukta police raided the office of his son Prashanth. Albert Nicolas and Gangadhar were found in the office of Prashanth carrying the cash.
A separate complaint was filed in which these two along with the three owners of the Karnataka Aromas Company were made the accused. It was this case that the five of them had challenged in two separate petitions.
The money seized is claimed to be the bribe allegedly being paid to Virupakshappa through his son Prashanth.
The HC rejected their plea for quashing the case quoting US philosopher Ayn Rand, "When the law no longer protects you from the corrupt but protects the corrupt from you, you know the nation is doomed."
The high court said investigation was necessary to find out why the two were carrying the cash. "As observed hereinabove, this is a picture in a picture. Accused Number 2 and 3 in the case at hand were caught at the time when the search was conducted in connection with Crime No. 13 of 2023," it said.
"They were admittedly caught holding two bags of cash of Rs 45 lakh each and were sitting in the personal office of accused No. 1, son of the Chairman of Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Limited and they are the office bearers of Karnataka Aromas Company, a commercial organization.
"The question is why were they sitting in the personal office of accused No. 1, a public servant and why were they sitting with bags containing cash of Rs 45 lakh each waiting to see accused No. 1 in his personal office would become a matter of investigation," the court said.
The court compared the connected incidents to a potboiler movie.
"Prima facie, if the story narrated by the learned senior counsel is accepted, it would be accepting a screenplay of a potboiler without letting investigation to be conducted into such ingredients, as the story, within a story twined is interesting to listen, it is a katha sangama but, if the petitioners are left off the hook, the very object behind the amendment and substituting Sections 8, 9 and 10 would be rendered redundant. It is high time the menace of corruption is plugged and nipped in the bud by making the bribe giver susceptible for such prosecution, like the bribe taker," the high court said.
Rejecting the petitions, the court said, "The entire facts narrated hereinabove are shrouded with corruption, on all the fours of the facts. It is therefore not the stage to spread a protective umbrella of law to the petitioners. Wherefore, for all the aforesaid reasons, finding no merit in the petitions, the petitions stand rejected."