It's going be a bumpy road ahead for Janardhana Reddy, mining baron and former Karnataka tourism minister, who was arrested on Monday in connection with the illegal mining case in Andhra Pradesh. He faces a series of charges filed by the CBI and if investigators present a watertight case he is likely to be cornered.
Apart from the charges he faces in Andhra Pradesh, a probe is also being undertaken by the Central Empowerment Committee of the Supreme Court to investigate the mining scam. Further, the Lokayukta report on illegal mining indicts Janardhana Reddy.
Although his legal team claims he is innocent and rubbishes the charges against him, the cases against him tell a different tale. From a position of invincibility, today Reddy finds himself in a big soup and getting away seems close to impossible.
The CEC, which has been probing the case, speaks in length about the various aspects of illegal mining. It speaks about encroachments on forestland, which has prompted the Supreme Court to ban mining in Bellary.
The damning Lokayukta report clearly nails Reddy. It exposes how the Reddy brothers -- Janardhana and Karunakara -- exploited the mines in Bellary and how the former floated companies and has managed to stash away crores overseas.
Janardhana Reddy has been remanded to 14-day CBI custody and the bureau will further grill him on his alleged role in the illegal mining operations in Obulapuram Mining Company in Andhra Pradesh. Moreover, the probe agency has also prepared a strong case to ensure that he is not granted bail, which he is expected to seek later on Tuesday.
There are a series of charges that have been levelled against Janardhana Reddy and they include:
Section 26 of the Forest Act, which charges him with encroachment on forest area to carry out illegal mining. (Bellary, which was once famous for sloth bears, has none today thanks to rampant illegal mining in forest areas.)
He is also charged under Section 120 (b) of the Indian Penal Code for criminal conspiracy to carry out illegal mining and under Section 379 for theft of state property.
The mining baron has also been charged under Section 420 of the IPC for cheating, Section 411 for receiving property dishonestly, Section 447 (criminal trespass) and Section 427 (mischief).
Further, he is also charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure for misconduct by a public servant. But Janardhana Reddy's biggest crime is criminal breach of trust punishable with 10 years under IPC Section 409.
Although all these charges are punishable with a jail term ranging between one and 10 years, Indian law states that the maximum punishment shall be imposed. When an accused faces multiple charges, the quantum of punishment depends on the biggest charge against him. In this case the biggest charge is under Section 409 of the IPC, which means if convicted on all charges he could face a jail term up to 10 years.