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In a soup: IAS facing corruption charges found to be storing child porn

Ramakrishna Upadhya | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 8:25 IST
QUICK PILL

Charges of impropriety

  • IAS officer Kapil Mohan is facing charges of shady deals and holding disproportionate assets
  • He was allegedly involved in betting on cricket too

Tipping point

  • In a raid at his home, Lokayukta cops found a hard disk containing child pornography
  • Since this is a cognisable offence, Mohan looks to be in trouble

More in the story

  • Why the Karnataka administration is not taking swift action against Mohan
  • Mohan alleges that the porn stash isn\'t his, and that he\'s being witch hunted. Could it be true?

At a time when the Karnataka Lokayukta has gone into a limbo and cases are piling up without being attended to, corrupt bureaucrats seem to be having a field day.

Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao refuses to resign, even as his son, Ashwin, has spent over two months in judicial custody, after being caught running an extortion and bribery scandal.

Rao has spent over 100 days on leave and gone on a fifth extension till 3 December, leaving his office headless and rudderless.

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Among 2,000-odd corruption cases pending to be disposed, a high-profile case involving a senior IAS officer is making a lot of headlines. But, over the last three months, there's been little headway in terms of bringing him to book.

The charges and the raid

Kapil Mohan, a 1990 batch officer, is embroiled in a series of charges, including alleged involvement in a cricket betting scandal, owning assets worth crores of rupees disproportionate to his known sources of income, receiving kickbacks for contracts sanctioned and also being in possession of child pornography.

It was on 5 August that the police raided Mohan's luxury apartment in Yeshwanthpur, after two bookies arrested in Hubli squealed on his alleged involvement.

The house was registered in the name of PSK Finance Solutions Pvt Ltd, of which Mohan's father is a director.

The raid yielded a rich haul of Rs 4.37 crore in cash, 2.5 kg of gold jewellery and diamonds, and several documents pertaining to the purchase and sale of properties in Bengaluru, Noida and Chandigarh. Simultaneous raids were conducted in other places also.

The police estimate that the immovable properties and investments in share markets are worth a few hundred crores. An FIR has been registered in the Yeshwanthpur police station.

Government laxity

Strangely, the state government has been lax in initiating action against Mohan, who continues to function as principal secretary for youth empowerment and sports.

"After the FIR was filed, the state government could have suspended the officer and written to the Centre to take further action, but obviously, Kapil Mohan is well connected," a senior bureaucrat told Catch.

Chief secretary, Kaushik Mukherjee, who is enjoying extension of service after retirement, said, he "is looking into the matter".

The scapegoat

Mohan, meanwhile, is doing all he can to get out of the hole. Last week, a man named Jaishiv Saxena, said to be a family friend of Mohan's, met the Lokyaukta police and income tax authorities, claiming that the cash and gold found at Mohan's place belonged to him.

He claimed that he had received a huge payment in cash in 2013 by selling his majority stake in an IT company called EAFT Technologies to a businessman in London, which he had kept with Mohan. But he could not produce the necessary documents.

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The police investigation revealed that Saxena was running a struggling financial service business called Black Rock Investments. But clinching evidence nailing his lie was that most of the currency notes were found to be printed in 2014.

Saxena has been arrested and remanded to police custody.

Documents seized by the police reveal that in 2012-13, when Mohan was managing director of the Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd, some private firms connected with him allegedly received kickbacks in the form of cheap loans for contracts awarded.

Dishaa Power Corporation, which was awarded mini hydro electric projects, deposited Rs 1.75 crore with PSK Finance and Vinimay Ltd, with which Mohan's father, wife and son are all connected. Divyashree Infrastructure Projects gave it Rs 5 crore, Vee Nine Builders Rs 2 crore and Jai Gopal Pariwahan Rs 1.14 crore.

Long history of inaction

Mohan had served in top positions in government-owned infrastructure firms like KREDL and Jala Bhagya Nigam, before moving to youth empowerment.

"The cosy relationship that the all-India service bureaucrats share among themselves makes the wheels of justice move really slowly. This helps many culprits with serious charges to escape without any punishment," said a former chief secretary of Karnataka.

He said when a state government proposes action against an IAS officer, the Centre usually takes more than a year to respond, as the matter has to be referred to various ministries, as also the Karnataka Public Service Commission. "Many officers even would have retired by the time the sanction comes," he said.

He pointed out that in the last 20-30 years, though many IAS and IPS officers had faced serious charges, only two IAS men had been punished so far - that too, only being dismissed from service, not serving any jail term.

"The power to sanction prosecution, currently enjoyed by the politicians and committees of bureaucrats, should be taken away from them. It should be vested with an independent body headed by a judicial person and a time limit should be fixed for initiating action," he said.

Planted pornography?

Mohan was also obviously hoping that the focus would gradually shift away from him, until on Wednesday, the Lokayukta police discovered a hard disk containing child pornographic material from his house. There were over a 100 videos featuring European children and also adults.

Under Section 67(b) of the Information Technology Act, even mere possession of child pornography is a cognisable offence, which calls for imprisonment up to 5 years. Mohan has been booked under this Act and the case handed over to the city police for further investigation.

"I'm not aware of any porn visuals, nor does that disk belong to me. Someone is playing games in this case to malign me. It looks like a witch hunt against me," Mohan said in reaction to the latest allegations.

Kapil Mohan was allegedly involved in cricket betting and has disproportionate assets worth crores

Could the police have planted it, as Mohan had hinted at, to 'tighten' the case against him?

Na Vijayashankar, cyber technology expert, believes that forensic examination can confirm whether any insertion has been made in the hard disk or not.

He says with thorough investigation into the origin of the pornographic material, its source can be established.

But as of now, there is a clear case for the police to take Mohan into custody immediately without waiting for orders from above, as the offence is of a serious nature.

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First published: 10 November 2015, 12:58 IST
 
Ramakrishna Upadhya @rkupadhya9

Ramkrishna Upadhya is a senior journalist based in Bangalore, currently working with TV9. Earlier, he was with Deccan Herald, The Telegraph and The Indian Express.

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