New Delhi: On Tuesday, the Supreme Court granted more relief to former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, who has been on bail since January 2015 after being arrested for what the CBI called the nation’s ‘most notorious mining scam ever.’ The court relaxed his bail conditions, allowing him to stay in his hometown of Ballari, about 300 kilometres north of the state capital Bengaluru.
The Supreme Court ruled that mining baron-turned-politician must notify the Superintendent of Police when visiting the town and leaving it. ‘Trial has not even started in the case and the petitioner has not violated bail conditions so far. Hence, he is permitted to go to Ballari…Meanwhile, the trial court may expedite the trial in the case,’ a two-judge bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari ruled today.
In 2015, the Supreme Court has granted bail to him following his arrest in September 2011, had ordered him not to visit Ballari, located in the eastern part of the state. He had even been barred from campaigning in the town in 2018, one of the most powerful men in Karnataka. However, he was able to canvass for his friend, the BJP’s V Srirmulu, just outside the district.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) strongly opposed his permission to enter Ballari, claiming he would endanger the lives of 47 witnesses, all of whom live in the town. According to the report, this would influence the investigation.
For the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Madhvi Divan said that Reddy had been charged in a case in which he attempted to influence and bribe judges to seek bail. In August 2019, a former CBI special judge appeared as a witness in a ‘cash-for-bail’ case involving him and claimed that the government offered him Rs 40 crore in bribes to grant bail to Reddy. ‘The fact that this man (Reddy) is permanently going to stay in Ballary sends a wrong message. This is one of the most notorious mining scams ever,’ Ms. Divan said.
However, Reddy argued that the trial had yet to begin and the charges had yet to be framed, while he had already served nearly four years in jail. For him, senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Ranjit Kumar appeared in court.