Pieces of a puzzle

Print edition : June 15, 2012

THE immediate political future of B.S. Yeddyurappa hangs in the balance in the aftermath of the findings of the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CBI action follows the legal efforts of a Dharwad-based non-governmental organisation, Samaja Parivartana Samudaya, which approached the Supreme Court seeking an inquiry by the CBI into the accusations made against Yeddyurappa and his kin in the Lokayukta report last year. The court appointed a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) to look into the matter.

On May 11, the court agreed with the recommendations of its CEC and ordered a CBI probe. The CBI has time until August 3 to submit its report to the Supreme Court.

In its 17-page report, the CEC has indicted Yeddyurappa, his sons B.Y. Vijayendra and B.Y. Raghavendra, and son-in-law R.N. Sohan Kumar for their involvement in the illegal allotment of land in Bangalore to South West Mining Ltd, owned by the Jindal Group, in return for Rs.10 crore given as donations to a charitable trust, Prerana Education Society, run by close relatives of the former Chief Minister.

What was perplexing to the CEC was that the company which made the payment in two cheques in March 2010 made only a net profit of Rs.5.73 crore in 2009-10.

Making it more suspicious, according to the CEC, was the fact that neither South West Mining nor any other company controlled or managed by the Jindal Group had made such a large donation to any other society or trust.

The CEC report said that the Bangalore land deal involved serious violations of relevant Acts and procedural lapses and prima facie [indicated] misuse of office by the then Chief Minister thereby enabling his close relatives to make windfall profits, and raises grave issues relating to undue favours, ethics and morality.

Expressing shock and concern at the spread and extent of illegal mining in Karnataka, the CEC recommended that a detailed investigation be done by the CBI into the massive illegalities and illegal mining found to have taken place and the allegations made against the Jindal Group as recipients of large quantities of illegally mined material and undue favours shown to it in respect of mining lease of [the State-government owned] M/s Mysore Minerals Ltd.

The CEC further recommended that the CBI probe two donations amounting to Rs.6 crore made by mining lessee R. Praveen Chandra to entities owned by Yeddyurappa's kin, which according to the CEC were a quid pro quo for allotment of a mining lease.

As part of its investigations the CBI on May 16 conducted searches in Bangalore and Shimoga at the offices and residences of Yeddyurappa, his kin and their trusts, his close associates, former Minister S.N. Krishna Shetty and BJP legislators S.R. Vishwanath and Lehar Singh Siroya. The houses and offices of senior Jindal Group executives in Bangalore and Bellary district were also searched as part of the ongoing investigations.

Ravi Sharma
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