By Nikhil Dawar
In a huge embarrassment for the BJP, its former president Bangaru Laxman was today convicted for accepting Rs 1 lakh as bribe from a fake arms dealer in a fictitious deal eleven years ago.
It was labelled as India’s 1st ever Camera Scam conducted by Tehelka. The Additional Sessions Judge Kanwal Jeet Arora convicted Laxman on Friday for accepting a bribe from fake arms dealers with the promise that he would ‘influence’ the Defence Ministry to award them a contract for the Army.
Laxman, a former Union minister, was caught on camera in a sting operation in his chamber in the party headquarters. He had to quit as president shortly after the sting expose which created a huge political storm.
72-year-old Laxman was taken to Tihar Jail today and will be produced in court tomorrow at 10:30 am for the sentence.
Clad in a cream kurta and white pyjama, Laxman stood shocked in the witness box as the judge pronounced his verdict. He did not want to talk to any one and sat in the witness box for a long time. His daughter was also present in court. Later, the police took him into custody.
“The CBI has been able to establish the case of accepting Rs 1 lakh bribe against Bangaru Laxman. Accused Bangaru Laxman stands convicted for the offence under Section 9 (taking gratification for exercise of personal influence with public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,” the judge said.
The court had reserved its judgement in the corruption case on April 3 after hearing arguments from the counsel for the CBI and the accused.
Bangaru was caught on camera accepting money in a 2001 sting operation conducted by newsportal Tehelka.com. The video CDs, which were released by the portal on March 13, 2001, had sparked a political storm, forcing Bangaru to quit as BJP chief.
The scribes posed as representatives of a fictitious UK-based company West End International and sought his recommendation to the ministry for supply of “hand-held thermal imagers”, a fictitious device, for the Indian Army.
As per the CBI chargesheet, Tehelka scribes had held eight meetings with Bangaru between December 23, 2000, and January 7, 2001, projecting themselves as suppliers of defence-related products.
The CBI had alleged Bangaru accepted Rs 1 lakh from the representatives of the purported firm on January 1, 2001, at his office to pursuing their proposal.
Bangaru’s former personal secretary T Satyamurthy, who was co-accused, was pardoned by a trial court after he turned approver in the case.
The case will hurt as it has been termed as ”bjp’s bofors” .