Bengaluru: Janthakal mining scam - Former CM Kumaraswamy granted bail

Bengaluru, May 17 (Deccan Chronicle): Former Karnataka chief minister H D Kumaraswamy was granted bail on Wednesday in connection to the Janthakal mine scam, a day after a senior IAS officer involved in the case was arrested.

IAS officer Ganga Ram Baderiya, was arrested by the sleuths of the Lokayukta Special Investigation Team (SIT) which is probing illegal mining in the state.

It is alleged that Kumaraswamy and the chief minister’s office pressurised Baderiya, 56 to renew mining lease to Janthakal Enterprises, flouting various norms.

SIT sources said that the 56-year-old IAS officer of the 1989 batch was arrested as he had allegedly received kickbacks from the mining company to renew the licence in 2007, when he was the Director of Mines and Geology Department.

“The officer was summoned to appear before the investigating officer on Monday. He was questioned for more than four hours. As, prima facie, his role was established in the case, he was arrested in the afternoon. He was produced before the SIT Special Court, which remanded him to SIT custody for three days,” an official said.

It is said that the SIT officials have clinching evidence that the officer had illegally renewed the lease to Janthakal Enterprises and, as a favour, had received Rs 10 lakh from the company.

“Investigations revealed that he had pressured his subordinates to renew the lease to the mining company. As a kickback, the company had paid him Rs 10 lakh and the money was deposited into the bank account of his son Gagan Baderiya. We have collected the documents, including the cheque, related to the case,” the official said.

Baderiya is said to be the first IAS officer in the state to be arrested while still in service.

The SIT officials will continue questioning him and his statements will play a key role as the case involves a few political bigwigs.

How lease was renewed illegally

The case is related to the renewal of a mining lease and to grant work permit to lift the old dump in Holalkere taluk in Chitradurga district that belonged to Janthakal Enterprises. The mining lease in Hirekandawadi and Tanigehalli villages in Holalkere was granted in 1965 in favour of Raghavendra Rao.

But Janthakal Enterprises had claimed that the lease was transferred to the company in 1967. In August 2007, when Mr Kumaraswamy was the CM, the government issued two notifications, according to which the license was renewed retrospectively from 1985 to 2005, and from 2005 to 2025.

Vinod Goel, the Managing Director of Janthakal Enterprises, had allegedly created fake documents to get the licence and a complaint was registered against him by a forest department official in Chitradurga. While investigations were underway, Goel had approached the High Court and brought a stay to the investigation.

However, the Lokayukta Special Court issued orders for an investigation following a private complaint. The probe was transferred to the SIT, which exclusively investigates cases related to illegal mining. The alleged irregularities in the case were also mentioned in the report on illegal mining, released by former Lokayukta Justice N. Santosh Hegde.