As a temporary reprieve to a former bureaucrat, the Karnataka High Court on Monday granted bail to a retired IAS officer N. Vishwanathan, who has been accused in an illegal mining case pertaining to Deccan Mining Syndicate Ltd. (DMSL). The case is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The court also granted bail to police inspector Ramakant Y. Hullar, another accused in the case. The court has directed Mr. Vishwanathan (72) and Mr. Hullar not to leave the jurisdiction of the CBI’s Special Court in Bangalore without prior permission and regularly attend the proceedings of the special court, where the charge sheet has been filed against them.
The Court has also asked them to furnish a bond for Rs. 1 lakh each and two sureties of a the same sum by each of them while warning them not to tamper with either the evidence or the witnesses in the case.
Justice N. Ananda gave three main reasons for granting bail to Mr. Vishwanathan and Mr. Hullar. The court, in separate orders, said the charges against the accused mainly depend on documentary evidence and hence they can be granted bail by imposing conditions to prevent any attempt of tampering. It also took into consideration that the charges levelled against the two attract maximum punishment of seven years and the chance of speedy trail in the present case is remote as the CBI is still probing the roles played by other accused — the former Minister G. Janardhan Reddy and his aide Mohammed Ali Khan.
The charges against Mr. Vishwanathan are that he had illegally favoured DMSL in renewing its mining licence despite adverse remarks against the company on the files, and helped it to carry out illegal mining in the areas allotted to NMDC Ltd. He was accused of causing a loss to the State exchequer of Rs. 1,232 crore and gain to DMSL through this alleged illegality. He was Principal Secretary, Commerce and Industries Department, from 1996 to 99.
Mr. Hullar is accused of helping the DMSL in delaying acceptance of complaint by NMDC Ltd. and delaying the probe on a complaint against the DMSL with regard to encroachment of NMDC’s mining area. This was when he served as Inspector of Sandur police station in Bellary.