The Central Board of Direct Taxes on Friday refuted a media report that said Bharatiya Janata Party leader BS Yeddyurappa allegedly made diary entries noting payoffs of Rs 1,800 crore to senior party leaders, judges and lawyers.
News magazine The Caravan made the claim on the basis of documents in the Income Tax Department’s possession. According to The Caravan, the diary was seized by the tax department during a search on the home of Congress leader DK Shivakumar in August 2017.
BS Yeddyurappa, former Karnataka chief minister, has claimed that corruption allegations made by the Congress against him were false and baseless, and he will file a defamation case against the party’s leaders. The Congress sought an inquiry by the Lokpal into a news report.
The CBDT said that during a raid at Shivakumar’s home and other properties, they found some loose papers, which were photocopies of Karnataka Legislative Assembly Legislator’s Diary pages of 2009. The papers had details of numerical entries against some individual names, the CBDT said, adding that the original copies of those documents were never given.
When Shivakumar was questioned about it, he had said that the papers were a copy of a diary written by Yeddyurappa and the payments made on his behalf to legislators, the tax department said.
“Shivakumar stated that, being a politician, he procures information about other parties, leaders and members and as the said loose sheets contain political information, he cannot disclose the source of information,” the CBDT’s statement read. “Further, he also stated that he keeps getting such information from the general public.”
According to the tax department, Shivakumar did not know the time period in which the transactions have taken place and denied having the originals of the loose sheets.
When Yeddyurappa were questioned, he denied that it was his handwriting and signatures on the loose sheets. “He [Yeddyurappa] further stated that contents of the loose sheets were false and fabricated and his name has been used to malign his political career,” the statement said. “He also provided a sample of his handwriting in order to verify the genuineness of the said loose sheets.”
The CBDT said the writing samples were sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Hyderabad in April 2018. The laboratory, however, asked for original documents for examination.
“It is clear that for a forensic analysis of the disputed writings to establish its evidentiary value, originals of the same are required,” the tax department said. “All efforts have been made by the Income Tax Office concerned to procure the originals of the disputed writings. However, the details about the place and custody of the original writings and, if the original writings exist, are not available.”
The department further said: “The same loose sheets prima-facie appear to be of a doubtful nature and were given by the person who was being raided for tax violations.”
‘The Yeddy diaries’
The documents comprise copies of diary entries, allegedly in Yeddyurappa’s handwriting in Kannada, noting the payoffs. The entries were made in a 2009 diary, but it is not clear when the payments were actually made. Each copy of the pages bears Yeddyurappa’s signature, according to The Caravan.
Yeddyurappa was the chief minister of Karnataka from 2008 to 2011.
The diary entries note that the BJP leader paid the party’s central committee Rs 1,000 crore, Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari Rs 150 crore each, Rajnath Singh Rs 100 crore, and LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi Rs 50 crore each, the report claimed. Jaitley, Gadkari and Singh are now Union ministers. Advani and Joshi are veteran BJP leaders.
The diary entries note that Yeddyurappa also paid Rs 10 crore for “Gadkari’s son’s marriage”, Rs 250 crore to “judges”, and Rs 50 crore to “advocates (fee paid for cases)”.
The Caravan report claimed that a senior income tax official wrote to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley about the possibility of further investigation, but the minister “chose not to act”. None of the leaders named in the report responded to The Caravan’s request for a response.
The diary entries also include amounts allegedly paid to eight Karnataka MLAs, some of whom helped Yeddyurappa get the required support to form the state government in 2008, and then got ministerial posts. Seven MLAs were allegedly paid Rs 20 crore each, and one was paid Rs 10 crore. These payments were allegedly made by mining baron G Janardhana Reddy, the report said. Reddy is out on bail in a ponzi scheme case.
The alleged diary entries also showed that 26 people paid Yeddyurappa Rs 2,690 crore – each ranging from Rs 5 crore to Rs 500 crore.