New Delhi, Nov 22: The Supreme Court today refused to quash criminal proceedings against former BJP chief Bangaru Laxman for allegedly receiving Rs one lakh bribe from undercover scribes to favour them in a ‘fictitious' defence deal.
A bench headed by Justice A K Ganguly refused to interfere in the proceedings of the lower court, which is conducting the trial in the case, and dismissed the plea of the 72-year-old politician.
The court, however, made it clear that it was not making any observation on the merits of the case and it will be decided by the trial court.
The court passed the order on an appeal filed by Laxman challenging the Delhi High Court's order refusing to quash the proceedings against him.
The case, lodged by the CBI, pertains to 2001 when a sting operation was done by Tehelka news portal purportedly showing Laxman receiving money from undercover journalists, posing as arms dealers, for recommending to the Defence Ministry purchase of their wares for the Army.
The video CDs of sting operation were released on May 13, in 2001 by the portal.
Bangaru had approached the apex court contending that the special CBI court had taken cognisance on the basis of erroneous facts and “non-application” of facts.
He had alleged that CBI had adopted a partisan approach in the entire case owing to “political motives”.
He had submitted that in a bid to implicate him, CBI had filed an application before the special court and obtained a pardon for his erstwhile private secretary Gurumurthy to turn him an approver and prosecution witness.
It was alleged that Bangaru, being the BJP President, had promised to utilise his connections for awarding the contract as the NDA government was in power at that time.
The lower court had in May framed charges against Bangaru under section 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act for accepting illegal gratification and said “prima facie it appears that the accused accepted money.”
The CBI charge sheet said the Tehelka scribes, under the guise of representatives of West End International, had held eight meetings with Laxman between December 23, 2000, and January 7, 2001, projecting themselves as supplier of defence-related products.
CBI had alleged Laxman had accepted Rs one lakh from the representatives of the purported firm on January 1, 2001, at his office for pursuing their proposal to supply certain products to the Army.
Tehelka had released the CDs of Laxman allegedly accepting money for awarding a contract to a fictitious UK based company M/s West End International for supply of “hand-held thermal imager” to the Indian Army.