Court orders trial of former BJP chief Bangaru Laxman
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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 19:37
  
New Delhi: A Delhi court has ordered that former BJP President Bangaru Laxman be put on trial for accepting money from fake arms dealers allegedly to recommend to the Defence Ministry to award them a contract to supply their wares to the Army.

Special Judge Vinod Kumar ordered Laxman's trial, framing charges against him under section of the Prevention of Corruption Act, saying "prima facie it appears that the accused accepted money."

Laxman was caught on camera accepting money in a 2001 sting operation conducted by news portal Tehelka.com with its scribes posing as representatives of a fictitious UK-based company West End International, seeking his recommendation to the ministry for supply of hand-held thermal imager to the Indian Army.

The video CDs were released by the portal on March 13, 2001.

The court ordered Laxman to face the trial observing that "the intention and act of the accused were real."

"Prima facie, it appears that accused accepted money from the functionaries of the West End International, London, for exercising his personal influence upon the concerned public servant to get favour for the aforesaid firm.

"Accordingly, a prima facie case under section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 is disclosed. Let the charge under section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 be framed," the court said.

The court rejected submissions by Laxman's counsel that no offence was disclosed because the entire operation was based on a fictitious company.

"Here, the accused is getting money on the pretext that he will help to get some business order for the company which actually was fictitious. But in the eyes of the accused, such a company was a real company.

"He was offered that if a contract is awarded to such a company, there were prospects to get further commission from it. No doubt, the company was fictitious but prima facie, the intention and the act of the accused were real," the judge noted.

The court also dismissed Laxman's counsel contentions that functionaries of West End International were guilty and they should also be prosecuted.

"I am of the opinion that these persons are the whistle- blowers. Their method may be objectionable but their purpose is not. If such persons are also prosecuted, no one will come forward to expose corruption.

"Furthermore, it is the prerogative of the state to prosecute a person and the courts normally avoid prosecuting the persons suo-motu unless there is travesty of justice," the court said.

As per the CBI chargesheet, Tehelka scribes, under the guise of representatives of West End International, had held eight meetings with Laxman between December 23, 2000, and January 7, 2001, projecting themselves as supplier of defence- related products.

CBI had alleged Laxman had accepted Rs one lakh from the representatives of the purported firm on January 1, 2001, at his office for pursuing their proposal to supply certain products to the Army.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 19:37


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