After an investigation spreading a little over 15 months, the CBI is all set to file its first chargesheet in the Tehelka expose against former BJP president Bangaru Laxman and two of his aides.
Highly-placed CBI sources said investigations in the case have been completed and a chargesheet would be filed as early as this week against Laxman, against whom the agency had registered a case on December 6, 2004. During the investigations, the sources claimed, the former BJP president had admitted to taking Rs one lakh from the news portal's reporter posing as arms dealer but maintained the money was meant for "party funds".
The sources said Laxman, who was grilled by the Anti-Corruption unit during the investigations, told the CBI sleuths that he had received the money from the purported arms dealer only towards party funds. Laxman has, however, denied all allegations including the charge by the Tehelka sting operation team that he had demanded payments in foreign currency.
CBI had on December 6 registered five cases in connection with the expose, including one naming Laxman and two of his personal staff members — N Uma Maheshwari Raju alias Raju Venkatesh and Satyamurthy — under Section 120-B of the IPC. A major political controversy had broken out when the Tehelka tapes were made public on March 13, 2001 leading to the resignation of Laxman and the then Defence Minister George Fernandes, who was, however, reinducted later.
Laxman was shown by Tehelka video clipping as accepting Rs one lakh and allegedly demanding additional payment in dollars as a consideration for rendering assistance in the matter of supply of hand-held thermal cameras to the armed forces.