The alleged conman had a modus operandi which involved convincing people that he had connections in high places and he could get their ‘work’ done for them.
In any other country, this bit of news would have created a sensation. The fact that no eyebrows seem to have been raised in India, both within civil society and the media, speaks volumes of the standards of probity that are expected from people who occupy or who have occupied high positions of power in the country.
On 10 January, while cursorily glancing over some of the mainline newspapers, a news item struck me as being seriously amiss. A retired judge of the Karnataka High Court, Ms B.S. Indrakala had been duped of Rs 9.22 crore by a conman to whom she had paid, as per newspaper reports, a sum of Rs 95 lakh, Rs 3.77 crore and Rs 4.5 crore on three separate occasions. The fact that a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court had been duped was certainly newsworthy. But what struck me as odd was the lack of any questioning on why the said judge deemed it appropriate to pay such huge sums to a conman and what were her sources for such income. Unless the right questions are asked, an issue can never be appropriately addressed.
The alleged conman, an individual by the name of Yuvraj Swamy, had a modus operandi which involved convincing people that he had connections in high places and he could get their “work” done for them, such as securing plum postings or getting them seats on government boards. According to the retired judge, Ms Indrakala, her friend, a retired superintendent of police by the name of Papaiah, introduced her to Yuvraj Swamy, whom she met him in her house, sometime in 2018. Swamy also claimed to be well versed in astrology and predicted a very bright future for her. He informed her that the government was looking for a lady with the right background for a gubernatorial appointment and promised to intercede on her behalf. He further urged her to seize the opportunity.
Indrakala expressed interest in the proposal and was told that for such assignments, she had to pay some money to the party funds. Accordingly, she transferred a sum of Rs 95 lakh to the bank account of Yuvraj Swamy, the money being arranged by her through the sale of a site she owned and from a bank loan. Thereafter, according to the news reports, on two separate occasions, she paid huge sums of money for the deal to go through. In the first instance, she paid Rs 3.77 crore and in the second instance, she paid Rs 4.5 crore. The promised appointment however failed to materialise and as she also got no response from Swamy, she filed a complaint with the police in late 2020. By then, Swamy had already been arrested by the police on 16 December 2020, in another case of cheating and defrauding a businessman.
A QUESTION OF ETHICS
The police and the media have rightly trained their guns on Yuvraj Swamy, who apparently is a highly skilled con artist, and who is believed to have defrauded many people for huge sums of money amounting to hundreds of crores of rupees. A raid on his residence led to the seizure by the police of Rs 26 lakh in cash and cheques addressed to him, amounting to Rs 91 crore. Yuvraj Swamy is apparently a confidence trickster and a cheat and he will receive his just dessert. But what of the people who used his services to deliberately subvert the governance structures?
Ms Indrakala had served as a judge of the Karnataka High Court. While she has stated that the Rs 95 lakh she paid was obtained through the sale of property, and through taking a loan, the newspaper reports do not give any statement from her on where she got the funds to pay Rs 3.77 crore and Rs 4.5 crore on two later occasions. Having huge assets by itself is not an offence. But should the police not have asked her about her source of income and her income tax details? This angle should have been probed to determine the probity of the deal and the failure of the police to do so is reflective of viewing the incident from one spectrum of the lens only.
Another aspect which needs to be flagged in the conduct of Ms Indrakala. Having served as a judge in a High Court, her giving financial inducements to secure for herself the post of a governor of a state or some other appointment, is unethical and is condemnable. This appears to be an attempt on her part to subvert the decision making process and influence it in her favour, for which she is culpable.
Yuvraj Swamy is a conman, and he only did what his calling demanded of him. He has been apprehended and he will be dealt with as per the law. But what of those other people who use the services of people like Swamy to subvert India’s structures of governance? They too need to be stripped of their mask of probity and dealt with for corrupt practises. Their action is in no way less reprehensible than that of the criminals. It takes two hands to clap. Law enforcement needs to deal with both.
Major General Dhruv C. Katoch (Retd) is an Army veteran.