SC directs CBI probe against BS Yeddyurappa in illegal mining case

The apex court accepted the CEC report, which had pointed out several allegations against Mr Yeddyurappa and corporate entities involving Jindals and Adanis and had recomended a CBI probe

New Delhi: In a setback to Karnataka's former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, the Supreme Court on Friday directed a CBI probe against him for allegedly granting undue favours to firms involved in illegal mining in lieu of donations to a charitable trust run by his kin, reports PTI.

A Special Forest bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia directed the probe agency to carry out the probe uninfluenced by the stature of the person and political clout and corporates involved in the case and file its report by 3rd August.

The bench, also comprising justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar, stayed all pending proceedings before all judicial forums in connection with the case.

The apex court accepted the 20th April report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) which had pointed out several allegations against Mr Yeddyurappa and corporate entities involving Jindals and Adanis and had recomended a CBI probe.

The court also asked the Andhra Pradesh government to cooperate with the CBI in the investigation.

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

The CEC had recommended CBI probe considering the "massive illegalities and illegal mining" found in Karnataka and allegations against the Jindal Group as being "recipient of large quantities of illegally mined material and undue favour being shown to them".

Mr Yeddyurappa's counsel and senior advocate V Giri had earlier argued that merely on the basis of the CEC report, 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 the CBI probe was also opposed by JSW Steel Ltd on the ground that the matter was pending with the state's law enforcing agencies.

The court had earlier this month asked Yeddyurappa to place before it all relevant evidential material along with a note to counter the CEC documents, which "prima facie made out a case for investigation" against him and his kin for alleged "irregularities" and "illegalities" in the mining activities.

The CEC report had 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 those of Jindals and Adanis.

The report said during March 2010, Prerana Education Society, "set up by the close relatives of the then chief minister, Karnataka" received donations of Rs10 crore from South West Mining Ltd, a Jindal Group company, despite reporting its own profit for FY10 at only Rs5.73 crore.

"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 Rs5.73 crore," the report had said, adding such a large donation were not made by the company or by any other Jindal group firm to any other trust or society, not owned, managed or controlled by the Jindal Group.

The report said 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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Court reserves order on charge framing against Essar, Loop promoters

The five persons facing CBI charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy in the case are Essar group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters IP Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan, besides Essar group director Vikash Saraf

New Delhi: A Delhi Court on Friday reserved its order for 25th May on framing of charges against Essar group and Loop Telecom promoters for allegedly committing offences of cheating and criminal conspiracy for obtaining the 2G spectrum licences from government, reports PTI.

"Put up for order on 25th May. All the five accused person shall remain present in the court in person (on 25 May 2012)," Special CBI Judge OP Saini said after the CBI concluded its arguments on framing of charges.

The five persons who face the CBI charges of cheating and criminal conspiracy in the case are Essar group promoters Ravi Ruia and Anshuman Ruia and Loop Telecom promoters IP Khaitan and Kiran Khaitan, besides Essar group Director (Strategy and Planning) Vikash Saraf as accused in the case.

Besides the five, the CBI has also named in its charge sheet, filed on December 2012, three companies -- Loop Telecom Pvt Ltd, Loop Mobile India Ltd and Essar Teleholdings Ltd also as accused in the case.

Advancing arguments on framing of charges, CBI counsel AK Singh said Loop Telecom played "hide and seek" with the Department of Telecom (DoT) and concealed information from it regarding their relationship with Essar Group.

Referring to the conduct of Loop Telecom, he said, "first the company had not filed the clause 8 (of the Unified Access Services Licences guidelines) certificate which was mandatory to be submitted at the time of filing of the application (for spectrum) and secondly, when it gave the certificate on the asking of DoT, it submitted the same with incomplete information."

He said this shows that Loop Telecom was "concealing vital information about its relation with Essar group which is the subject matter of the case."

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SC refuses to entertain Air India's plea against Indian Pilots Guild

The IPG, whose members have been reporting sick, are protesting the national carrier's move to send pilots from both Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines in equal numbers to get trained for flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliners

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain Air India's plea for initiating contempt proceedings against Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) for allegedly obstructing implementation of its order on training of pilots for Dreamliner aircraft, reports PTI.

A bench headed by Justice TS Thakur said that they (pilots) have done nothing which amounts to contempt of court and suggested the airlines to speak with them to sort out the differences.

"They have done nothing for obstruction of justice or to bring disrepute to the court. Your problem is with them. You sit with them and sort out the differences. Don't resort to contempt proceedings," the bench said.

It further said that if the strike is illegal, then the airlines can take action against them. "Rest assured that if there is slightest contempt of court, then we would ourselves initiate proceedings against them," the bench further said.

Air India on Thursday moved the apex court seeking initiation of criminal contempt proceedings against the office bearers of the Guild by resorting to protest action, which, it said, disrupted international flight operations of the airline and amounted to contempt of the apex court orders.

Air India had said the action of the IPG was in violation of the 23rd April and 2nd May orders of the apex court by which it was made clear that the training programme will be imparted in equal ratio to the pilots of pre-merger Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines.

The IPG, whose members have been reporting sick, are protesting the national carrier's move to send pilots from both Air India and erstwhile Indian Airlines in equal numbers to get trained for flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the first of which is likely to be inducted later this month.

The training programme is going on from 8th May in Singapore.

Air India's counsel Lalit Bhasin had said the "armtwisting" act by the IPG was coming in the way of administration of justice.

The matter reached the Supreme Court after Air India had appealed against 13th March order of the Bombay High Court which had restrained the national carrier from sending any pilot from Indian Airlines for training to fly Boeing 787.

Later, on 23rd April, the High Court order was stayed by the apex court which had made it clear "that the training imparted to the members of the IPG shall remain subject to the final outcome of the writ petition and shall not prejudice the rights and contentions of the writ petitioners before the High Court in any manner".

The apex court had asked the High Court to expeditiously deal with the matter and dispose it of within six months. However, IPG had filed an application in the apex court.

During the hearing of the application, Air India had submitted that "an equal number of pilots, as have been deputed from the erstwhile Air India, shall be deputed for training from out of the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots also with effect from 8 May 2012 on a Boeing facility".

The court had noted that "in the light of the statement the apprehension expressed by the petitioner/applicant (IPG) that only Air India pilots are being or may be deputed for such training is misplaced".

The 2nd May order also recorded the statement of IPG's counsel that the statement Air India's lawyer was "indeed sufficient to allay the apprehension expressed in the application".

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