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Ex-BJP chief Bangaru Laxman convicted in defense deal case

Ex-BJP chief Bangaru Laxman convicted in defense deal case
In an embarrassment to BJP, its former president Bangaru Laxman was today convicted for the offence of accepting Rs 1 lakh as bribe from a fake arms dealer in a fictitious deal eleven years ago.

The long arm of the law caught up with Laxman, when Additional Sessions Judge Kanwal Jeet Arora convicted him for taking bribe from fake arms dealers to recommend to the Defence Ministry to award them a contract to supply thermal binoculars to the Army.

Laxman, a former Union minister caught on camera in a sting operation accepting money in his chamber in the party headquarters, had to quit as its president shortly after the sting expose which had created a huge political storm.

The 72-year-old Laxman was taken to Tihar Jail after completion of all the formalities and will be produced in the court tomorrow at 10:30 AM when the court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence.

The court turned down the plea of Laxman's counsel for bail, saying "after sentence only, I will consider the aspect of bail."

Clad in a cream kurta and white pyjama, Laxman stood shell-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 the 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 on reserved its judgement in the corruption case, involving Bangaru Laxman 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 themselves 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 charge sheet, Tehelka scribes had held eight meetings with Bangaru between 23 December 2000 and 7 January 2001, projecting themselves as supplier of defence-related products.

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

Bangaru's former personal secretary T Satyamurthy, who was a co-accused, had been granted pardon by a trial court after he turned an approver in the case.
IANS

IANS

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