November 5, 1978, Forty Years Ago: Nagarwala Case
The money (Rs 60 lakh) taken out of the State Bank of India by Rustam Sohrab Nagarwala on May 24, 1971, belonged to the bank and was removed for some secret use, according to the findings of the Reddy Commission, which investigated the so-called bank fraud case. The commission’s report says though the possibility of unaccounted money being kept in the bank could not be ruled out, there was no evidence to show that the money belonged to the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi. The commission did not accept Prime Minister Morarji Desai’s view in this regard. Admitting that there were several “dark spots” for which no explanation could be found, the report criticises Mrs Gandhi, who also held the home portfolio at the time, for not ensuring proper investigation of the case. The commission has taken a serious note of evidence that certain officers of then PM’s secretariat tried to hamper the investigation and told the police officers concerned to finish the case quickly.
Shadow Over Bank
The (Nagarwala case) report says that an examination the bank’s Parliament Street branch, from where the money was removed, showed that private unaccounted articles were being kept in the bank’s strongroom, particularly by some bank officials and employees. The commission does not rule out the possibility of important persons keeping unaccounted money in the bank. It says it could not ascertain who requisitioned the money and for what purpose, but there is evidence to suggest that the practice of removing money from the bank this way was prevalent even before the Nagarwala case.
Some 595,000 voters in Chikmagalur, Karnataka go to the polls in a vital by-election to pronounce their verdict on Indira Gandhi’s attempt to re-enter the Lok Sabha. Former Karnataka chief minister, Veerendra Patil (Janata), is her main challenger.