Bengaluru: The High Court has dismissed the case against Amita Prasad, NV Ramanreddy, and TM Vijay Bhaskar, former Principal Secretaries of the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, in connection with the alleged misappropriation of grants under the National Rural Drinking Water Scheme. A single-member bench led by Justice M. Nagaprasanna accepted the petition and issued an order to quash the case. This decision pertains to all proceedings in the 23rd Additional City Civil and Sessions Court (Prevention of Corruption Act Special Court) against the petitioners, Amita Prasad, Raman Reddy, and Vijay Bhaskar. However, the court clarified that this order does not apply to the investigation of other accused in the case, except the petitioners.
The court found that the necessary prior permission from the competent authority had not been obtained for the investigation against the three officers. It was noted that a tripartite agreement had been signed on October 1, 2010, between the Union Ministry of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation, State Water and Sanitation Mission, and Syndicate Bank for project implementation. However, none of the three petitioners were parties to this agreement.
Amita Prasad served as the Principal Secretary of the department from May 16, 2011, to June 8, 2012, while Raman Reddy held the position from May 22, 2012, to May 31, 2013, and Vijay Bhaskar served as the Principal Secretary from May 31, 2012, to April 24, 2015.
After Vijay Bhaskar’s tenure, the Rural Water Supply Commissioner submitted a report on May 4, 2015, in which financial “abuse” was mentioned, but no specific official’s name was cited. Subsequently, an audit conducted in 2015 identified P. Boregowda and Ramakrishna as responsible for the misappropriation of funds, but it did not implicate the three petitioner officers.
As a result, there were no allegations against the three petitioners, and a B-report was submitted by the police on January 9, 2019. Notably, the names of the three petitioners were not included in the charge sheet filed by the police.
The case revolved around allegations of the misappropriation of funds totaling crores of rupees under the Rural Drinking Water Scheme, with claims that the state incurred a loss of Rs 269 crores due to this misappropriation. Various investigations, including departmental inquiries, audits, police inquiries, and ACB (Lokayukta) investigations, were conducted. Additionally, social activist V. Narayanaswamy filed a private complaint, which was admitted for trial by the trial court on January 13, 2022. The three officials had approached the High Court to challenge this decision.