BJPâ€™s Karnataka president BS Yeddyurappa has been acquitted of charges of corruption by a CBI special court on Wednesday. He had been accused of receiving kickbacks in exchange for granting mining licences to a mining company affiliated with Jindal Steel.
The special CBI court judge RB Dharmagowder acquitted all 13 accused of all charges. The verdict was delivered at 11 am, but the judgement copy is yet to be accessed. The accused had been charged under Sections 420 and 120b of the IPC, and Sections 7, 11, 13 (1)(d), and 13(2)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Speaking to the media, Yedurappaâ€™s advocate CV Nagesh said the prosecution has failed to prove the allegations. He also said that the Rachenahalli case proved that back then too, property value was high. He said that no benefits had accrued to Yeddyurappa.
Yeddyurappa said he had been vindicated by the verdict and that he had been implicated in the case for "political"reasons. He told TV9 Kannada "A lot of people, many mothers have prayed and done puja for me, so that I get justice. I lost my mother at a young age, and these mothersâ€™ blessings are with me. Because of them, I have got justice. The verdict has brought peace to lakhs of party workers. I will work to bring the party to power."
The verdict is significant as it was these very allegations which eventually forced him to resign from his post as chief minister. Although he refused to quit, the calls for his resignation grew louder, eventually forcing him to surrender before the Lokayukta court in October 2011. The cases pending against him now, are mostly of a private nature.
Reacting to the verdict, Raghavendra, an MLA and Yeddyurappa's son told the media that peopleâ€™s doubt had now been removed. He said that "baseless allegations" had been made against them and the CBI had filed a case. But he declined to name "those who had made such baseless allegations against them".
The complainant S R Hiremath told The News Minute that he would decide his next move after reading the high court order.
Yeddyurappa had been accused of receiving kickbacks for granting mining license to the South West Mining Company (SWMC), an affiliate of JSW Steel, over a period of several years between 2006 and 2011. The money was alleged to have been paid to Yeddyurappa through the Prerana Educational and Social Trust, which was set up in 2006 in Shivamogga. Yeddyurappaâ€™s sons BY Raghavendra, an MLA, and BY Vijendra are trustees.
According to the chargesheet filed by the CBI on October 16, 2012, Rs 20 crore was deposited in the personal bank accounts of his sons Raghavendra and Vijendra, and his son-in-law Sohan Kumar in August-September 2010. An additional Rs 20 crore was donated to the Trust by companies affiliated to JSW. The CBI found that Rs 6 crore had been transferred to Swamy Vivekananda Vidya Samsthe, of which, Yeddyurappa was a trustee.
SWMC is also alleged to have purchased a plot of 1.02 crore in Rachenahalli owned by Yeddyurappaâ€™s son at a cost of Rs 20 crore. The report on illegal mining said that these transactions were made in anticipation of favours from the Karnataka government, then headed by Yeddyurappa.
The Prerana Trust acquired 39.36 acres at Guddadarakere in Shivamogga district, in violation of Section 109(i)(ii) of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act. Educational institutions recognised by either the State or the Centre should not acquire more than two units of land (5.4 acres constitute one unit), as per the rules. The trust, is entitled to have a maximum of 10.32 acres.
The Dharwad-based Samaja Parivarthana Trust filed a complaint with the Supreme Court based on the findings of the then Lokayukta N Santhosh Hegde in the report on illegal mining submitted in July 2011.
In May 2012, the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to investigate all industries involved in the alleged payment of kickbacks to Yeddyurappa.
During a court hearing in May, Yeddyurappa got teary-eyed as the court questioned him on his involvement and other aspects of the case. He was asked around 475 questions in court during the two-and-half-hour hearing.
When the judge asked Yeddyurappa if he wanted to say anything, the Lingayat stalwart said tearfully: â€śI have not done anything wrong and whatever I have done, it is done within the parameters of law.â€ť He also claimed that his actions had not caused any losses to the state government.
A total of 13 people were chargesheeted including Yeddyurappa, his sons Raghavendra and Vijendra, his son-in-law Sohan Kumar, two employees of Prerana Trust, and staff of SWMC.
In the past, the Karnataka High Court quashed the case filed by the Lokayukta against Yeddyurappa on technical grounds.