In a surprising move, the Karnataka government decided to bring IAS officer J Manjunath back into service after he was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in July in connection with a bribery case. In an order dated October 31, Manjunath has been appointed as special officer and joint secretary of the health and family welfare department.
Manjunath was granted bail in September after the ACB failed to present a chargesheet after the conclusion of the 60-day period. At the time of his arrest, he was the director of Integrated Child Protection scheme after he was transferred from the post of deputy commissioner of Bengaluru (Urban) following a bribery complaint.
In May 2021, deputy tahsildar Mahesh PS and court assistant Chetan Kumar were arrested after they were caught red-handed taking Rs 5 lakh as bribe to settle land dispute on behalf of an Anekal resident and seeking favour from the deputy commissioner’s court. After the Karnataka High Court came down heavily on ACB for going soft on the senior officials and not probing them, Manjunath was arrested, and subsequently suspended. Manjunath’s name was even omitted from the original FIR even after landowner Azam Khan had filed a complaint against Manjunath.
It was only after strong observations by the Karnataka HC that Manjunath was named as an accused in the FIR. According to reports, the accused had demanded Rs 15 lakh in bribe for ruling the case, which was pending before DC’s court, in his favour.
Also Read | Supreme Court stays orders by HC judge who called Karnataka’s ACB ‘a centre of corruption’, asks registry to expunge remarks
Granting bail, a special court barred Manjunath from travelling outside the state without the investigating officer’s permission and also stopped him from going abroad without informing the court.