M K Madhusoodan
Bengaluru: The disclosure of over Rs 876 crore income tax evasion by liquor major based in Bengaluru may only be seen as tip of the iceberg. Though there are doubts that the case may fizzle out when the liquor majoe might pull strings within the Central Board of Direct Taxes using the group’s alleged “agents”within Bengaluru Income Tax offices.
“This suspicion of Khodays dabbling in official corridors is well known. Back in 1995 Khoday family Patriarch late L Srihari Khoday avenged his loss of a government property he illegally wanted take over (a 4.5 acres of Police office originally belonging to Rana of Nepal, but now a state property on Millers Road worth Rs 500 crore). An upright State Police Chief during those days late Mr. A P Durai, who cleared encroachment on the property using his official capacity and police force in an overnight operation. Late Mr Durai, was tossed like a ping pong ball from getting posted from Chief of Railway Protection Force to Central Reserve Police Force as part of “punishment’ as per Srihari Khoday’s dictats.
Late Hari Khoday, also hounded a journalist who unearthed the illegal move. But such moves by late Hari Khoday cannot work now. The present raids at over 25 premises also unearthed huge land bank owned by the group, benami properties in the names of Khoday group directors and employees. Attempts are being made to bring not only overseas economic offences and real estate scams involved by the group to the notice of Karnataka Governor and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the past four years. These attempts were stuck in red tapes of Central Bureau of Investigation files.
“The income tax officials posted in Bengaluru in past several years will also be facing the heat for their failure to detect such a large volume of evasion. “It will open a pandora’s box and will reveal involvement of several income officials who might face the axe. Not only this, an estimated loss of over Rs.600 crore to the exchequer every year is also suspected by the Finance Ministry,”sources said. “The Income Tax Department has found that there were several acres of coffee estates in Coorg District’s Virajpet Taluk and In Chikkamagaluru district owned by Khoday group. A large property having several coconut plantation near River Cauvery Sangam (confluence) in Kanakapura Taluk was also under scanner. Commercial properties on Raj Bhavan road, Palace road, Brunton Road, Infantry road (Bhagavan Mahaveer Road) was also being investigated, sources stated. The property on Raj Bhavan road was found to be originally under the custody of Custodian of Enemy Property as it was abandoned by a local resident who married and migrated to Pakistan. At least three of thesereal estate properties were developed jointly with a builder close to former Rajya Sabha Chairman Rehman Khan.
As things stand there is hectic lobbying by the group who has control over local media, but Yediyurappa government in the state is feigning ignorance on these developments. Perhaps, a dissident infested state party set up prevents local keadership of BJP to keep off from the troubled liquor major. Investigating agencies are now getting ready to find out the real estate partner of Khodays group role in Communal disturbances in Bengaluru and Mangaluru.