Former minister and BJP leader from Shivamogga district Hartal Halappa has been acquitted in a rape case filed against him in 2009. With the assembly polls due in a few months, will the BJP allow the political resurrection of the strongman from Sorba constituency?
At the BJP rally in Bengaluru on Friday, many leaders were discussing ‘Halappa’s return’. A BJP leader told TNM that the party may even give Halappa a ticket as he is a “strong candidate”.
“Halappa had won the polls from Shivamogga district twice. Earlier, the party was hesitant to give him the seat as he had rape charges pending against him. Now that he has been acquitted, there are chances he will get the ticket,” the source said.
The BJP had wanted to field Kumar Bangarappa (who had quit the Congress to join the BJP) against his brother Madhu Bangarappa of the JD(S) in Sorba. But with Halappa getting a clean chit, the party is may prefer a stronger candidate like Halappa, the source said.
Halappa had beaten Kumar Bangarappa and secured second position during the 2013 assembly polls despite the rape charges levelled against him. Madhu Bangarappa had been elected MLA in that election.
On Thursday, Hartal Halappa was acquitted of rape charges by the Second Additional District and Sessions Court in Shivamogga.
Seven years after the case was filed, Judge BG Rama pronounced the verdict, acquitting Halappa due to “lack of evidence.”
Halappa's lawyer Ashok G Bhat said that the complainant, wife of Halappa’s friend Venkatesh Murthy, had stayed at a private lodge in Shivamogga along with their children on the night of November 27, 2009.
“In her complaint, she had told the Vinobnagar Police that she was raped by Halappa at her house in Shivamogga on November 27, 2009. How can she be at two places on the same night at the same time? Considering this, the judge must have acquitted Halappa,” he told the media.
Speaking to reporters, Halappa said that the court’s verdict proved that a false case had been filed against him
“I thank all those who helped me during my difficult times. It was a political conspiracy to tarnish my image,” Halappa said.
With the judgment in his favour, a comeback seems inevitable. “Kumar Bangarappa had lost to Halappa. At the time Halappa contested as a KJP candidate, BJP’s Chikkavalli Nagarajagowda had lost terribly, not even making it to the third position,” the source added.
“Halappa is a favourite and a trusted aide of BS Yeddyurappa. He had followed him into the KJP and is extremely loyal to Yeddyurappa. Kumar Bangarappa was brought into the BJP’s fold because of his experience. He could be given another constituency,” the source added.
Hartal Halappa was the Food and Civil Supplies minister in B S Yeddyurappa’s cabinet.
In April 2011, the CID, in its charge sheet against Halappa had stated that two laboratory analyses had confirmed the rape.
The CID had then filed a charge sheet against Halappa in the Shimoga JMFC alleging that he had raped the woman on November 27, 2009.Venkatesh Murthy, Chandravati’s husband, had submitted a video recording where Halappa and his wife were seen in a bedroom.
Murthy had claimed that he had recorded it on his cell phone soon after his wife was raped between 3.30 am and 4 am on November 27. He had submitted the copy of the recording to the CID in a CD. Halappa, however, had denied the incident.
The CID had also said that the video was not doctored. The investigation report had said that Halappa had gone for dinner to Murthy’s house on November 26 at around 10 pm and stayed overnight. Halappa sent Murthy to fetch some medicines from the guest house around 3.30 am.
He then allegedly raped the victim in her bedroom. Murthy, who was suspicious about Halappa’s intention, returned immediately and found his wife screaming and Halappa leaving the room. The same was recorded on the cell phone.
The CID had chargesheeted Halappa under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code.