Cash on camera: Bangaru found guilty 11 yrs later

Bangaru

ELEVEN years after he was caught on camera allegedly accepting cash in a sting operation, former BJP president Bangaru Laxman was today convicted by a trial court. He is the first to be convicted in the cases registered following Operation Westend, a series of sting operations conducted by Tehelka.com involving a fictitious defence deal in 2001.

"The CBI has been able to establish the case of... Rs 1 lakh bribe against Bangaru Laxman. (He) stands convicted... under Section 9 (taking gratification for exercise of personal influence with a public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act," Court of Special CBI Judge Kanwaljeet Arora said.

Bangaru was taken to jail after the order was pronounced. The judge turned down his plea for bail, saying this could only be considered after the sentence was pronounced. The CBI is expected to push for the maximum punishment of five years at tomorrow's hearing on the sentencing.

The court had reserved its judgment in the case on April 3.

In its chargesheet, the CBI said Tehelka journalists had held eight meetings with Bangaru between December 23, 2000, and January 7, 2001, pretending to be suppliers of defence-related products. Bangaru's former personal secretary T Satyamurthy, a co-accused, had been granted pardon by a trial court after he turned approver.

Bangaru had to resign following the scandal.

In order to push the deal through, Tehelka journalists had also offered bribes allegedly to several senior Army officers and bureaucrats as part of Operation Westend.

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