Ex-judge’s bribe for Governor post unfortunate: Karnataka High Court

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A former Karnataka High Court judge’s alleged attempt to pay a “bribe to the petitioner for securing the post of Governor” has lowered the prestige of judges and the image of the Governor’s post, the Karnataka High Court has said.

The observation was made by the single-judge bench of Justice K Natarajan while denying bail to Yuvaraj Swami, 52, an astrologer accused in multiple cases of allegedly cheating politicians, businessmen and a former High Court judge, Justice B S Indrakala.

Yuvaraj Swami, arrested in December 2020 by Bengaluru police, allegedly cheated these people of crores of rupees by promising them high positions in the government.

The retired High Court judge allegedly paid the astrologer Rs 8.5 crore through RTGS and cash after Yuvaraj took her to meet top political leaders to convince her to make payments in 2018-19. The retired judge filed a police complaint of being cheated by Yuvaraj Swami following his arrest in December 2020.

“It is also most unfortunate that a former judge of the high court has paid a bribe to the petitioner for securing the post of Governor, which act of the complainant not only lowered the prestige of a judge (but) also affects the image of the Governor’s post,” the bench said in its recent order.

The court has also pulled up a magistrate’s court in Bengaluru for granting bail to Yuvaraj in the case filed by the retired HC judge, as also the Karnataka government for not seeking cancellation of the bail granted by the magistrate.\

“He has committed a heinous offence of cheating educated people as well as a retired High Court judge. It is unfortunate that the learned magistrate granted bail in Crime No.125/2020 where the accused received Rs 8.50 crore for securing the post of Governor,” Justice Natarajan noted in his order. “It is most unfortunate that the state has not chosen to file any application for cancellation of the bail granted by the magistrate.”

The High Court has rejected bail pleas filed by Yuvaraj Swami in six cases of cheating — other than the one involving the former HC judge. The court observed that “the petitioner is notorious and having so much influence with political parties” that he can cheat people “under the guise of providing posts in government organisations, and that too to the level of assuring the post of Governor.”\

Yuvaraj Swami had sought bail in the six cases by citing the example of the IMA Group Ponzi scheme founder Mohammed Mansoor Khan, who is accused of swindling thousands of investors to the tune of nearly Rs 4,000 crore but was granted bail by the High Court.

Justice Natarajan, however, ruled that the cases against Yuvaraj Swami are not comparable to the Ponzi scheme case, where an administrator has been appointed to recover the funds of investors by seizing properties and investment of Mohammed Mansoor Khan.

“Though he has stated in his voluntary statement that he has paid amounts to politicians and other persons and assured jobs, the petitioner seems to be a middleman and highly influential person having contact with ministers, otherwise it is not possible to promise or assure providing or securing jobs like Governor, chairman of boards…” the court stated in its order. “He is suppressing the names of persons to whom he has paid the money for securing the posts.”

Yuvaraj Swami was first arrested by Bengaluru crime branch police on December 16, 2020 in the case of allegedly cheating a businessman, K P Sudheendra Reddy, of Rs 1.5 crore by promising to make him chairman of Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation.

Investigations of Yuvaraj’s activities by the Crime Branch has so far revealed that he allegedly swindled a former MP of Rs 20 crore by promising renomination to Parliament and a ministerial position, and the former Karnataka HC judge of Rs 8.50 crore by promising him posting as a Governor by using his high contacts.

While the retired judge filed a formal complaint with the police in December 2020 following Yuvaraj’s arrest, the former MP has not directly filed a complaint.

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