Former BJP President Bangaru Laxman was convicted by a Delhi court and taken into custody for accepting a bribe from a fake arms dealer in a 10-year-old graft case. Arguments on sentencing will be heard today. “I am of the considered opinion that CBI had been able to establish the necessary ingredients of offence under Section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against accused Bangaru Laxman beyond reasonable doubt,” the court said while holding him guilty under the section of the anti-corruption act for accepting the bribe.
“The accused Bangaru Laxman on January 5, 2001 had accepted illegal gratification of Rs 1 lakh from M/S Westend International and had further agreed to accept the balance amount of illegal gratification in dollars, as a motive or reward for exercise of personal influence on the public servants working with Ministry of Defence, to show favour for award of a supply order in favour of the above mentioned company to the Indian Army,” the court added.
Laxman’s face became pale and he appeared to be shocked when the court pronounced its verdict and ordered that the 72-year-old be taken into custody. The case dates to 2001, when newsportal tehelka.com carried out a sting operation that caught Laxman on camera receiving money from a journalist posing as an arms dealer. He later resigned as the BJP chief. Tehelka had released CDs showing Laxman accepting money for awarding a contract to a fictitious Britain-based company for the supply of the imagers to the Indian Army.
“I am of the opinion that the method adopted by the Tehelka people may be objectionable, but their purpose was not,” the court said. A Delhi court on May 2011 framed corruption charges against Laxman. The CBI, in its chargesheet, said that Laxman accepted Rs 1 lakh from the representatives of the purported firm in 2001 at his office for pursuing their proposal to supply certain products to the army. “Tehelka scribes had held eight meetings with Laxman between Dec 23, 2000 and January 7, 2001, projecting themselves as suppliers of defence-related products,” said the chargesheet.
However, Laxman had said that the investigations of the case were politically motivated and were not conducted in fair manner. Alleging that the Congress party had funded this sting operation, Laxman said, “Congress Party used the Tehelka tapes in the general elections held in 2004, which goes on to establish that it was the Congress Party or the persons having interest therein, who funded this project, wherein I was framed... I never had any disposition to commit any offence.”