In recent times, IT raids have been in news quite often. Raids on people closely associated with political bigwigs have garnered quite a bit of attention in the national media. These raids have led to the seizure of huge hoards of unaccounted money, which have led to Opposition leaders screeching political vendetta in a united voice.
Amidst the recent high profile raids, involving the likes of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, there’s a certain raid from 2016 which has been wiped off public memory. At the time, the said raid raised quite the stir with the state police getting involved, as the focus of attention was an important politician close to bigwigs from the ruling party. The entire series of events does make for a fascinating story.
In March 2016, the IT Department conducted raids on K. Govindaraj, Parliamentary Secretary to the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah and a member of the Legislative Council of the state. The raids led to the seizure of a diary that allegedly listed financial transactions between different entities, which were referred to only through their initials. OpIndia.com has now accessed the IT documents pertaining to the investigation.
One of the documents that were seized was a diary which allegedly reveals transactions that occurred between Lok Sabha Elections 2014 and January 2016 and sometime after. The contents of the diary, which is presumed to belong to Govindaraj since it was recovered from his house, suggest that the MLC served as a conduit for rather dubious financial transactions.
The said document contains what appears to be transactions categorized under headings such as ‘L.S. election-2014’ and ‘BBMP Election’. Further, the headings are divided into two sub-categories designated as ‘Paid’ and ‘Received’. Certain numbers and letters are marked alongside each combination of letters, which on the face of it, appears to be the amount of money in crores received by the individuals who are represented by their initials.
Some of the initials mentioned are in the document will definitely pique the readers’ interest. While some appear to be rather obscure, others are fairly recognizable. ‘RG Office’ and ‘SG Office’ are probably the most familiar initials on the list, although to be fair they could be literally anybody. ‘DKS’, ‘M. Vora’ and ‘AICC’ too, are fairly recognizable initials.
One of the pages of the said diary that was seized appears to suggest that Rs. 32 crore was paid to ‘M. Vora’ while a sum of Rs. 6 crores and 8 crores was paid to ‘RG Office’ and ‘SG Office’ respectively. The same page suggests that Rs. 243 crores were received from ‘KJG + MBP’ and over 80 crores from others. The said transactions are listed under the heading ‘L.S. elections-2014’.
There are numerous other pages which appear to list similar transactions. One page suggests that Rs. 7 crore was paid to the Media as well during the Municipal Corporation Elections in Bengaluru. In another page, a certain ‘AP’ also finds a mention. A sum of Rs. 5 crores was apparently paid to the said individual in October of a certain year.
The IT department, based on the transactions mentioned in the diary, concluded that Govindaraj made a net income of Rs. 15,16,39,600 through them. Interestingly, the figure is suspiciously close to the amount of additional income admitted by Govindaraj in an official statement to the IT department, as noted by the investigative agency itself.
Govindaraj, for his part, has constantly denied during the inquiry that he has anything to do with the diary or its contents. According to him, the diary does not belong to him and the handwriting is not his either.
The IT Department, however, maintained that the onus was on Govindaraj to prove that the diary was not his and who it belongs to if not himself and how was it that the entries in the said diary match with the entries made by him in a separate piece of seized evidence. To back their stance, the investigative agency cited judicial precedents and provisions. The agency says in its order, “These receipts have not been evidently explained relating to any source not has it been incontrovertibly been established to be belonging to another person making the applicability of the provisions of section 132(4A) and 292C inevitable.”
According to section 132(4A) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, when any books of account, document, money, jewellery or thing is found in possession of any person in the course of search, it is presumed that it belongs to him and the contents of such books of accounts or documents is true. And as per section 292C of the same act, whatever is found in the searched premises is presumed to belong to the person searched.
The Congress MLC, a year after the raids, decided to get the state police involved which was under the control of the Congress party. In his complaint to the Police in February 2017, Govindaraj had alleged that there were irregularities with the raids carried out in March the previous year and claimed that the diary was not recovered from his house but was, in fact, planted after the search and leaked to the media. The Karnataka Congress, too, had claimed that forensic analysis of the handwriting from the diary revealed that it was not the MLC’s handwriting.
Karnataka Police registered a case in the matter following the complaint by Govindaraj and demanded that the diary be handed over to them along with a list of the IT officers who participated in the raid at the MLC’s house. It was later in July, the same year, that the High Court of Karnataka stayed further police proceedings into the matter.
The seized diary led to raids against DK Sivakumar, the politician who was hailed as the ‘man of the match’ in the Karnataka Assembly Elections last year for his money and manpower, sending jitters throughout the Congress party. Eventually, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) registered a case of money laundering against Karnataka Congress leader D K Shivakumar. The case was in connection with the income tax raids carried out at his premises where a huge sum of cash was allegedly recovered. Readers would note that DK Sivakumar has the initials ‘DKS’ which is mentioned in the seized diary.
The discrepancy was also observed in the quantity of jewellery that Govindaraj and his wife actually possessed at the time of the search and that which was reported to the Lokayukta. During the search, 632.250 gm of Gold was recovered from him and 845.90 gm was recovered from his wife, Hamsaraj. 70.94 gm of gold was recovered from his sister in law. However, as per the Lokayukta as of 31st March 2016, Govindaraj possessed 1500 gm of gold and his wife, 4500. The question that was being asked is, what happened to the rest of the Gold? If it was sold, was tax paid? If not, where is it?
The IT Department asserts that even after numerous opportunities were provided to Govindaraj to explain the difference in the quantity of jewellery. Instead, Govindaraj and his wife approached the Lokayukta to file a revised return and bring the jewellery on par with what was found during the course of the search. In light of the affidavits, the agency considered the differential amount as unexplained income under section 69A of the IT Act. Thus, Govindaraj was deduced to have an unexplained income of Rs. 1,96,92,250 while his wife had the same of Rs. 8,29,48,070.
At the end of it all, the IT Department concluded that Govindaraj had an undisclosed income of over Rs. 408 crores and undisclosed assets of over Rs. 10 crores. Furthermore, it was calculated that a total of Rs. 175,39,80,440 was payable as Tax.
Thus, we have a situation where the Parliament Secretary to then Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was found to have over Rs. 400 crores as undisclosed income. Combined with that, according to a diary that was seized, crores of money was paid to individuals believed to be top Congress leaders. The individuals who allegedly received a share of the pie have very conspicuous initials: ‘RG Office’, ‘SG Office’, ‘AP’, ‘M. Vora’, ‘DKS’ and the like. Money was also paid to the media.
On top of that, in what appears to be an attempt at a cover-up, the Karnataka Police, which was under the control of the Congress party as they were in power in the state, registered a case following a complaint by the Govindaraj who accused the IT Department of planting the diary in his house. All the while, the MLC could not provide any credible explanations for the seized material despite being given ample opportunity to do so.
Congress leaders have a history of indulging in dubious financial transactions. We, at OpIndia.com, have exposed the series of shady deals Congress President Rahul Gandhi has conducted over the years. The accomplishments of the Congress party’s son-in-law in land deals is too widely known to require much elaboration. Former Union Minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti, Congress candidate from Tamil Nadu, are accused in several cases by law enforcement agencies as well. The recent Income Tax raids had revealed that the brother-in-law of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal had converted Rs. 242 crores to dollars using bogus bills.
As far as Govindaraj’s diary is concerned, the matter is still under investigation by relevant authorities. And it certainly appears there are plenty more skeletons in the Congress party’s closet that could be revealed in the days to come.