‘No material to hold her liable in illegal mining case’

The High Court of Karnataka has upheld 2015 order passed by a special court discharging Lakshmi Aruna, wife of the former Minister G. Janardhana Reddy, in an illegal mining case in which she was made a co-accused along with her husband.

Justice K. Somashekar passed the order while dismissing a petition filed by Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, an NGO, on whose plea the apex court had ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into illegal mining and export of ore in Karnataka.

The High Court held that the special court had rightly come to the conclusion that Ms. Aruna cannot be made liable for the acts of her husband merely because she was a partner in his Associated Mining Company as there was no material or evidence against her in the chargesheet filed by the CBI making liable any active role or overt act in committing the offences alleged.

“She cannot be made liable for the acts done by accused number-1 [Mr. Reddy]. She was only subscribing her signature on the documents only after the documents were verified by her husband…” the High Court observed on analysing the special court’s order and the material on record, including statements of witnesses.

Noticing that statements of witnesses recorded by the CBI showed she was signing on cheques and other documents after Mr. Reddy verified them and that it was Mr. Reddy who was operating and controlling the entire business, the High Court said the special court, after verifying all the materials in the chargesheet, rightly came to the conclusion that there was no material to frame charge against her.

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