SC orders CBI probe against Yeddyurappa

SC orders CBI probe against Yeddyurappa

Probe to cover land and mining scams involving former CM, kin

In a judgment that will have huge political impact in Karnataka, for the BJP and B S Yeddyurappa, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the CBI to investigate the former chief minister for de-notifying land and receiving donations in a trust run by his family members for grant of mining leases.

Delivering the 43-page order, a three-judge forest bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia stayed all proceedings going on before any other court relating to the charges made against the BJP leader and others.

The bench passed the order on the interim application filed by NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya seeking CBI probe against Yeddyurappa, JSW Steel, South West Mining Company and lease holder S Praveen Chandra.

The court relied upon the report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) set up by it to look into illegal mining in Karnataka. The CEC submitted its report on April 20.

The apex court directed the CBI to complete its investigation and submit a report to the court of competent jurisdiction within a period of three months and also place a copy before it.

The Bench further directed that a special investigating team (SIT) be set up for the inquiry. The SIT would be headed by an officer not below the rank of Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) or Additional Commissioner.

“The CBI shall undertake investigation in a most fair, proper and unbiased manner uninfluenced by the stature of the persons and the political or corporate clout, involved in the present case. It will be open to the CBI to examine and inspect the records of any connected matter pending before any investigating agency or any court,” the judges said.

The investigating agency would now look into the allegations of serious illegalities into the purchase of a piece of land by the close relatives of the then Chief Minister for Rs 40 lakh in 2006 and its subsequent sale to South West Mining Limited in the year 2010 for Rs 20 crores, as also the donation of Rs 20 crore received by Prerana Education Society from South West Mining Limited.

The Bench, also comprising Justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar, expressed its concern over the failure of state machinery in protecting the environment due to illegal mining activities. 

“The facts of the present case reveal an unfortunate state of affairs which has prevailed for a considerable time in the districts of both the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The CEC has recommended, and the complainant and petitioners have also highlighted, a complete failure of the state machinery in relation to controlling and protecting the environment, forests and minerals from being illegally mined and exploited,” the Bench said.

During the hearing, on May 4, Yeddyurappa contended that he was probed for the same charges by Lokayukta police on a private complaint and the Karnataka High Court had already quashed the FIR in the matter.

“The court cannot countenance an approach of this kind where the State can be permitted to escape its liability only on the ground that multifarious complaints or investigations have been initiated by private persons or bodies other than the state,” the Bench said, rejecting his argument.

Private miners, on their part, pleaded that they were not given a chance of hearing before the CEC. They had also claimed that they were probed earlier and in some cases, matters were pending before the Karnataka High Court.

“A suspect has no indefensible right of being heard prior to initiation of the investigation,particularly by the investigating agency. Even, in fact, the scheme of the Code of Criminal Procedure does not admit of grant of any such opportunity. There is no provision in the CrPC where an investigating agency must provide a hearing to the affected party before registering an FIR or even before carrying on investigation prior to registration of case against the suspect,” the court said.

What does the verdict say

*    CBI probe to cover Rachenahalli land denotification and sale to South West Mining Company by Yeddyurappa’s sons
*    Donations made by South West Mining Company to Prerana Education Society also under CBI lens
*    All investigation pertaining to these cases in different courts and agencies to stop immediately
*    CBI to constitute special investigation team headed by additional director to probe
*    Probe agency to submit inquiry report to court in three months
*    Supreme Court to take up for hearing illegal export of iron ore from Belekeri port on August 3

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