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Mining issue: SC for BSY’s response before ordering CBI probe

New Delhi(PTI): Former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa was today granted a day’s time by the Supreme Court to file documents for opposing the expert committee’s recommendations for CBI probe into illegal mining by companies which made donations to the charitable trust run by his kin.

A forest bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia asked the BJP leader’s counsel to place before it the material along with a note to counter the documents supplied by the Central Empowered Committee which “prima facie made out the case for investigation” against him and his kith and kin for alleged “irregularities” and “illegalities” in the mining activities.

The Bench, also comprising justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar said, it will pass an order whether CBI probe was required or not after going through the documents and notes.

The April 20 report prepared by the CEC in pursuance of the apex court’s February 10 order, said there was a scope for expanding the CBI probe against Yeddyurappa and annexed the documents to support its findings.

“Prima facie, we are satisfied that the documents (annexed) by CEC made out a case for investigation by CBI,” the bench said.

However, Yeddyurappa’s counsel and senior advocate V Giri said merely on the basis of the report of the CEC, the probe cannot be handed over to the CBI as the Lokayukta police was seized of the matter and the former chief minister had got a relief from the Karnataka High Court against which an appeal is pending before the apex court.

The CEC recommendation for CBI probe was also opposed by JSW Steel Ltd whose counsel C S Vaidyanathan said when the matter was pending with state law enforcing agencies.

He said the probe can only be handed to the CBI if the court was satisfied that the state agencies were not carrying out its investigation properly and abdicating its responsibilities.

However, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya, the petitioner, said the probe has to be handed over to the CBI as there was no Lokayukta in the state and the Lokayukta Police was being headed by a person whose credibility has come under question.

On the CEC report of April 27, the court said it will be taken later but on the plea of senior advocate Shyam Divan, who is an amicus curiae in the matter, it directed the state Lokayukta, Karnataka government and the Customs Department to preserve the documents, specifically referred and related to the seizure of documents from the officers of Belikeri Port.

The bench mainly deliberated on the April 20 report of the CEC which found evidence of huge payment made to the trust run by Yeddyurappa’s sons and his family received “windfall profits” in land deals in Bangalore involving big mining companies including that of Jindals and Adanis.

The CEC report said the Prerana Education Society “set up by the close relatives of the then chief minister, Karnataka” has during March, 2010 received donations of Rs 10 crore from South West Mining Limited, a Jindal Group company.

“In this context it is of interest to note that during the year 2009-2010 the net profit (after tax) of the said company was only Rs 5.73 crore,” the report had said, adding that such a large donation were not been made by the company or by the other Jindal Group companies to any other trust or society not owned, managed or controlled by the Jindal Group.

The report said that a Bangalore land deal involved “serious violations of relevant acts and procedural lapses and prima facie misuse of office by the then chief minister, Karnataka thereby enabling his close relatives to make windfall profits and raises grave issues relating to undue favour, ethics and morality”.

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