BENGALURU: A special CBI court on Wednesday found no proof that Karnataka BJP president B S Yeddyurappa received kickbacks of Rs 40 crore from mining companies when he was chief minister. It handed out an acquittal that clears the way for him to contest the next Assembly election.
Twelve others also won acquittals, including two of Yeddyurappa's sons, B Y Raghavendra, an MLA and managing trustee of the family trust Prerana, and B Y Vijayendra, a businessman, and his son-in-law R N Sohan Kumar.
Delivering a 418-page judgment in a packed court in the City Civil Court Complex, Judge R B Dharmagoudar stated that the prosecution failed to establish guilt of the 13 accused under the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Karnataka Land [Restriction on Transfer] Act.
Soon after the verdict, the 73-year-old BJP leader tweeted, "Justice is done, I stand vindicated."
The kickback cases cost Yeddyurappa his chief ministership in 2011 following an indictment by the then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde. In 2012, the CBI filed a chargesheet against Yeddyurappa, his sons and son-in-law, Prerana Trust, South West Mining Company and the Ballari-based JSW Steel.
The charges were that Rs 40 crore kickbacks wre paid out, including Rs 20 crore to Prerana for granting favours, including mining licences, during Yeddyurappa's chief ministership from 2008 to 2011.
The case also saw Yeddyurappa spend about three weeks in jail in October 2011.
The judge found no proof of illegality in denotification of land in Rachenahalli village, nor of abuse of power by Yeddyurappa to favour JSW Steel in the fixation of a premium on iron ore fines, non-insistence on recovery of loss suffered by Mysore Minerals Limited or in imposition of a ban on export of iron ore.
Judge Dharmagouder said the alleged conspiracy was only a suspicion of the prosecution. These were collective decisions taken by the government for valid reasons, the judgement said.
The judge also said there was also no proof that Yeddyurappa's relatives abetted him in favouring JSW Steel or that former minister Krishnaiah Shetty had Vijayendra, Raghavendra and Sohan Kumar to create a forged NOC to be issued by BDA for denotification of land.