The CBI probe ordered by the Supreme Court against the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa for his alleged role in the multi-crore mining scam is a major victory for the Dharwad-based Samaj Parivartana Samudaya (SPS), a non-governmental organisation, which has been fighting illegal mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for the past three years.
The SPS convinced both the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and the Supreme Court on the alleged illegalities committed by Mr. Yeddyurappa and his kin, top bureaucrats and mining leaseholders in the State. However, it is a war half won for the SPS, which, according to Vishnu Kamath of the organisation, will continue its fight on the other issues connected to illegal mining in Karnataka.
The SPS filed an Interlocutory Application (IA) in the apex court on January 16, 2012 demanding extension of the scope of the CBI investigation to cover serious illegalities committed by politicians and major corporate groups, including JSW and Adani in Karnataka, as it was upset with the alleged attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to put the Lokayukta's final report under wraps and weaken the institution of Lokayukta by transferring key investigating officials.
Considering the IA, the Supreme Court on February 10 directed the CEC to verify whether a CBI probe was necessary in the cases referred by the SPS and gave two weeks to the CEC to file its report.
The CEC in its report to the court on March 28 recommended investigation “in public interest” into a case involving two real estate firms owned by Mr. Yeddyurappa's kin for allegedly receiving money to grant mining lease.
In its recommendation on April 20, the CEC suggested inquiry by an “independent investigating agency such as the CBI” against Mr. Yeddyurappa and his kin for alleged irregularities in denotification of land and donations made to Prerana Education Trust, belonging to them, from a mining company.
The court panel recommended similar kind of investigation into illegal export of ore from Belekeri port in Karnataka. The Supreme Court after providing enough opportunity to counsel of Mr. Yeddyrappa to defend, finally passed its verdict on May 11.
“The apex court is yet to take up issues related to the links between illegal mining by Obulapuram Mining Company in Andhra Pradesh and widespread illegal mining in Ramgadh area of Bellary district, in connivance with officials,” Prof. Kamath said.
The matter relating to the Bellary City MLA G. Somashekara Reddy allegedly preventing Lokayukta investigator U.V. Singh from discharging his duty; senior police officials' failure in serving non-bailable warrant against the former Minister for Tourism G. Janardhan Reddy and, issue relating to illegal mining by Associated Mining Company were yet to be probed by CEC. “SPS will take up these issues vigorously in the second round”, Mr. Kamath added.