By LE Desk

Bengaluru, March 12: The High Court of Karnataka ordered conditional release of ₹53.46 lakh cash seized from a private company and an individual during raids conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with a corruption case registered against Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar.

Justice John Michael Cunha passed the order while allowing the separate petition filed by Bengaluru-based Wellworth Software Pvt. Ltd., a multi-system operator for cable TV network, and Sachin Narayan, a close associate of Shivakumar and partner in the businesses of Shivakumar’s wife, The Hindu reported.

The petitioners had challenged the October 2020 order passed by a Special Court that rejected their applications for release of the amount seized.

The High Court directed that the release of amount is subject to them executing indemnity bond for the equal amount and surety for the like sum to the satisfaction of the trial court in terms of the guidelines issued by the apex court in the case of Sunderbhai Ambalal Desai vs. State of Gujarat on release of seized material in criminal cases.

“…from documents produced by the petitioners, explaining the source of the funds, seized from their possession, it has to be held that the petitioners are the rightful owners of the seized amount and are legally entitled for the interim custody of the seized cash. Even otherwise, the interim release of the seized property [cash] does not preclude the CBI from investigating into the source of the said funds of the public servant [Shivakumar],” the court observed.

Though the CBI had disputed the genuineness of the documents produced by the petitioners, the High Court observed that “there is no prima facie material to show that the cash seized from the registered office of the company or the residence of the petitioner is anyway related to the proceeds of the crime” alleged against  Shivakumar or his wife.

The CBI had seized cash of $47,98,000 from the premises of the company and ₹5,48,000 from the premises belonging to Narayan. The petitioners had claimed that the cash was collected from cable operators and was kept in their custody for depositing them in the bank in favour of various broadcasters.

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