BJP's Karnataka lawmaker in CBI custody for iron ore export probe
The CBI Thursday arrested BJP lawmaker Anand Singh to probe his mining firm's role in the illegal export of iron ore from Karnataka in 2009-10. A special court sent him to the agency's custody till Oct 26.
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team arrested Singh at the Bangalore international airport on his arrival from Singapore where he gone Sep 25 for medical treatment.
Singh, a former state tourism minister, was whisked away to the agency's office in the northern suburb of the city. A warrant was pending against him from a CBI special court under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
A CBI official told reporters that Singh was produced in the special court, where the agency sought 10-day custody for his interrogation in the illegal export of iron ore by his company (Vaishnavi Minerals Ltd) along with others.
Granting the CBI's plea, the judge directed the probe agency not to subject the accused to third degree treatment.
"The accused should not be physically and mentally harassed and his interrogation should not go beyond 8 p.m. daily. In view of his health condition, as he is a heart patient, he should not be made to travel long distances in the city or state," the judge said in the order.
Later, when Singh's counsel moved an application in the same court for regular bail, the judge posted the case to Oct 24 for hearing objections by the CBI.
Singh was elected from Vijayanagara in the mineral-rich Bellary district, about 330 km from Bangalore, on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket in the May election.
He was tourism minister for eight months from September 2012 to May 2013 during the BJP's third government led by Jagadish Shettar.
According to the first information report the CBI had filed, Singh's mining firm had allegedly supplied around 1.3 lakh tonnes of the illegally extracted iron ore for export from the Belekeri port on the west coast of the state between January 2009 and May 2010 when the BJP ruled the state.
The FIR was filed on the directive of the Supreme Court, which is monitoring the CBI case.
Though Singh's counsel filed an application for an anticipatory bail after leaving for Singapore, the special court rejected it Oct 8 and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
"We have conveyed to Singh through his counsel that a red corner notice would be issued and Interpol would be alerted if he did not return to Bangalore to comply with the court's arrest warrant," the CBI official said.
Singh is the fourth lawmaker to be arrested in the case after T.S. Suresh Babu of the BSR regional party from Kampli and B. Nagendra from Kudligi (Independent) in Bellary district and Satish Sail from Karwar (Independent) in the coastal Uttara Kannda district.
They were taken into custody during the last one month for their alleged involvement in the iron ore export scam.
All the lawmakers have been charged in the FIR under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and the Karnataka Forest Act.
(Posted on 17-10-2013)