The Supreme Court today granted some more relief to former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, on bail since January 2015 after being arrested in connection with what the CBI has called the "most notorious mining scam ever". Relaxing his bail conditions, the court allowed him to stay in his hometown of Ballari, a little over 300 kilometres north of state capital Bengaluru.
The Supreme Court said mining baron-turned-politician will have to inform the Superintendent of Police while 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," said a two-judge bench of Justices Vineet Saran and Dinesh Maheshwari today.
Granting him bail in 2015 -- he was arrested in September 2011 -- the Supreme Court had ordered him not to visit Ballari, located in the east-central part of the state.
In 2018, it had even disallowed him, one of the most powerful men in Karnataka, from campaigning in the town for elections. However, he did manage to canvass for his friend, the BJP's V Srirmulu, just outside the district.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had opposed his plea seeking permission to visit the town, alleging he would seriously threaten the lives of the 47 witnesses in the case -- all residents of Ballari. This, it said, would influence the probe.
Appearing for the CBI, Additional Solicitor General Madhvi Divan stated that Reddy had been chargesheeted in a case where he attempted to influence and bribe judges for the purpose of seeking bail.
In August 2019, a former CBI special judge appeared as a witness in connection with a "cash-for-bail" case involving him and claimed that an offer of Rs 40 crore bribe was made to him in 2012 to grant Reddy bail.
"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.
Reddy, however, argued that the trial in the case was yet to begin and charges were yet to be framed, while he had already suffered for nearly four years in jail. Senior advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Ranjit Kumar appeared for him before the court.