In a first in Karnataka, a sitting legislator has been convicted for corruption by the Lokayukta court, adding to the embarrassment of the ruling BJP.
On Saturday, judge NK Sudheendra Rao sentenced Y Sampangi, MLA of Kolar Gold Fields, to three-and-a-half years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 90,000 under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
If Sampangi fails to pay the fine, he will have to stay in jail for another six months, said HN Sathyanarayana Rao, additional director general of police, Lokayukta.
The verdict comes after a three-year trial and a bad time for BJP. With the assembly polls just a year away, over half-a-dozen leaders of the party, including former chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, have been battling corruption cases.
Sampangi broke into tears as the sentence was read out. He was later taken into custody by the Lokayukta police and sent to Parappana Agrahara central prison on the outskirts of the city.
Sampangi's counsel, Indresh, pleaded for a reduction in the quantum of the punishment, but the court rejected his appeal. He later said they would appeal to the high court.
"Justice has ultimately won. I am happy with the court order,” said former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde, during whose tenure as Lokayukta Sampangi was arrested. “This verdict should act as a deterrent to those who indulge in corruption."
Congress leader Siddaramaiah said the judgment should be an alarm bell for politicians. Many other BJP leaders are facing corruption charges, he added.