New Delhi: In a major blow to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the allegations against him. The apex court observed that prima facie there was proof against Yeddyurappa, who is accused of having favoured mining companies for financial gains. Yeddyurappa filed for an anticipatory bail soon after the Supreme Court order.
The court also directed the CBI to finish investigations and submit report by August 3. Following the order all cases and investigations which are underway against Yeddyurappa and others would automatically be stayed, and the only investigations would be carried out by the CBI.
A public interest litigation seeking an investigation against Yeddyurappa was referred to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which had recommended CBI probe in three cases against Yeddyurappa. The court accepted the CEC report, which had asked for a CBI enquiry against Yeddyurappa, JSW Steel Ltd and Adani Group.
Reacting to the Supreme Court order Yeddyurappa, who is in Mysore, said, "I welcome the judgement and will come out clean after the CBI probe."
Yeddyurappa has been accused of receiving money from JSW Steel Ltd., denotifying land in Bangalore and of receiving kickback of Rs 5 crore to issue mining licences in Chitradurga-Tumkur districts of Karnataka. The CBI will also probe JSW Steel Ltd and and Adani Group, both of whom have been allegedly received favours from Yeddyurappa.
JSW Steel Ltd claimed that the company had not done anything wrong and assured the CBI of full cooperation. "JSW follows highest corporate governance and we haven't done anything wrong. Our books are open and will co-operate with the investigating agencies," a statement by JSW Steel Ltd said.
The Supreme Court order has dealt a body blow to Yeddyurappa who was lobbying hard along with MLAs loyal to him to reclaim the chief ministership of Karnataka. The apex courts order means the rebellion led by Yeddyurappa will lose steam and will also put an end to internal squabbling in the Karnataka unit of the BJP.
Following Yeddyurappa's legal troubles and his sidelining, the present Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda can consolidate his position within party. But Gowda publicly defended Yeddyurappa saying there is no substance in the case against the former chief minister.
"If I have to talk about any issue, I need to see the full text of the order. Before I do that I cannot react. But I have to say that there have been similar cases before the High Court and those have been struck down. I feel confident that this case too will go the same way after the investigation. There is no political impact of this order," said Gowda.
But the problem for the BJP will not end as Yeddyurappa is one of the tallest Lingayat leader and the party will find it very tough to get the votes of the community which is politically very influential.
Yeddyurappa was forced to step down as the Karnataka chief minister on July 31, 2011 following his indictment in the Karnataka Lokayukta report on illegal mining.