Kempanna and four other office-bearers of Karnataka State Contractor’s Association arrested, released on bail

D. Kempanna, President, Karnataka State Contractors Association.

D. Kempanna, President, Karnataka State Contractors Association. | Photo: File

High drama prevailed on Saturday night when five office-bearers of the Karnataka State Contractors Association, including president D. Kempanna, has been at the forefront of the fight against the alleged “40% commission” on contracts awarded by the state government. Vyalikaval police arrested them. They were released on bail around midnight.

The police arrested Mr. Kempanna, vice-presidents R. Ambikapathy and V. Krishna Reddy, treasurer HS Nataraj and organizing secretary BS Gurusiddappa of the association. The arrests were made pursuant to non-bailable warrants (NBW) issued against them by the VIII ACMM Court, hearing a criminal defamation case filed against Mr. Kempanna and others by Minister of Horticulture, Planning, Program Monitoring and Statistics, Munirathna. .

All the five arrested were brought before the judge at his residence. The magistrate granted them bail, after which they were released.

In August 2022, Mr. Kempanna, without naming Mr. Munirathna, said that the Kolar district minister had threatened officials to collect and obtain money. Mr Munirathna, who initially gave a seven-day ultimatum to provide evidence to support the claim, later filed a civil defamation suit seeking ₹50 million in damages and a criminal defamation case against Mr Kempanna and 18 other officers of the association.

Meanwhile, ACMM VIII, which judges the case of criminal defamation prima facie ordered the merits of the case and the registration of a criminal case and issued summons to all 19 defendants. On Thursday, the court issued NBW against all the respondents when they failed to appear in court.

Arriving in the middle of the Belagavi legislative session, the issue is expected to ignite a political storm.

Priyank Kharge, spokesperson of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, said the contractors’ association was a registered body carrying out work for the state government and it was demanding an impartial inquiry from the chief minister and the prime minister. “But what we’re seeing now is nothing more than harassment of whistleblowers, which only shows that the government has something to hide,” he said, adding that Congress will take up the issue in its legislative session on Monday.

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