A special CBI court in Bengaluru acquitted BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa of bribery and corruption in the Rs 40-crore Bellary illegal mining case on Wednesday, accusations that forced his resignation as Karnataka’s chief minister in 2011.
Yeddyurappa was cleared of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and corruption charges along with his two sons, a son-in-law, steel major Jindal Steel Works (JWS) and four Bellary-based JSW affiliates. The Yeddyurappa family was accused of receiving Rs 40 crore as bribe in their family trust in return for favours during Yeddyurappa’s tenure between 2008 and 2011. The former CM was also accused of favouring and receiving kickbacks from a Bellary-based mining company, an affiliate of JSW.
“Satyamave jayate (truth always triumphs)... Justice is done, I stand vindicated. Thanks to all well wishers,friends and supporters who stood with me in my tough times,” the 73-year-old posted on Twitter.
The CBI had filed a chargesheet four years ago, in October 2012, against Yeddyurappa and 13 others, including his sons BY Raghavendra , BY Vijayendra, son-in-law Sohan Kumar, former minister Krishanaiah Setty and several of the top leadership of JSW Steel, including Sajjan Jindal.
The agency had examined 216 witnesses in the case.
In their chargesheet, the CBI said Yeddyurappa gave undue favours to the mining company which donated Rs 20 crore to a trust run by his family. The CBI also found a Rs 20 crore deposit in a bank account of Yeddyurappa’s relative.
He was also accused of misusing his office to buy land belonging to the Bangalore Development Authority for just Rs 40 lakh, and then sell it to a JWS affiliate Rs 20 crore.
In particular, Yeddyurappa had ordered the denotification — or return of land acquired by the state government to the original landowners — of several acres in and around Bengaluru, lands which were allegedly sold back to firms owned by Yeddyurappa’s family below market rates.
Karnataka’s first BJP chief minister, Yeddyurappa was forced to resign on July 31, 2011, following a Lokayukta report on the land scam. He quit the BJP in November 2012 to float his own outfit and successfully contested the 2013 assembly election in which the BJP was routed.
However, he merged his Karnataka Janata Paksha with the national party ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and successfully contested the parliamentary election from Shimoga. He is currently the BJP’s state president.