Bengaluru: DGIT officials have told this newspaper that Mr Shivakumar was caught unawares and was grilled for hours on his alleged undeclared wealth and disproportionate assets running into crores. The DGIT confirmed that the searches "in the case of a Karnataka minister" have been conducted under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act, which is an evidence gathering exercise and is in compliance with all statutory requirements.
Top sources in the DGIT said that the searches were planned much in advance and were part of an ongoing investigation on tax evasion and undeclared assets of the minister. His name had allegedly figured in state MLC Govindraju's diary, which was seized in a raid by the Income Tax officials in March 2016. The diary had several initials of names, which are said to be of top Congress politicians. One of them was DKS, the initials of D.K. Shivakumar.
"The searches are the continuation of an investigation, which has been in progress for a considerable period of time. There is no conspiracy behind the raids. They were decided well in advance. To infer that the raids have been timed with certain MLAs, who have been brought to the city from another state, is inaccurate. We have questioned the Minister, who was staying at the resort near Bengaluru, where some MLAs from another state are put up. The raids have nothing to do with the other MLAs. Only the minister's room was searched," said sources in the Directorate.
Officials close to the minister have told this newspaper that Mr Shivakumar has allowed IT officials to open all the cupboards and lockers in his home but was refusing to answer questions saying his lawyers would do the talking. It was unclear whether he was under arrest, with officials indicating that he could be placed under arrest by late Wednesday night. The Income Tax department sleuths who are busy with the search operations on the residence and offices of the state Energy Minister are said to have unearthed documents pertaining to the alleged benami properties worth crores from the minister's residence in Sadashivanagar.
The sleuths from Enforcement Directorate (ED) are expected to join in the search operation following the recovery of the property documents. According to a source, the IT officials may refer the case to ED on Thursday. Though the exact amount of the benami properties is not yet known, the source said that it runs into several crores. According to the source, the minister had stashed the property documents in lockers and there were many lockers at his residence which the officials are yet to open.
Sources in the Congress have slammed the raids as "a witch-hunt" and part of the "dirty tricks" to ensure that the 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat — ten of whom told this reporter that being industrialists, they expected to be harassed — would be intimidated into not voting for Congress top honcho Mr. Ahmed Patel. Congress officials said that the party top brass’ allegations that the BJP had offered `15 crore each to its MLAs to vote against Mr Patel had upset the BJP, which was even more upset when they learned that Mr Shivakumar had told the Gujarat MLAs that he would match the BJP's offer. However, this information somehow got leaked and the BJP top brass got a whiff of it and the IT raid was planned to expose the financial deal, top sources said.