Bangalore: A CBI special court on Friday permitted the investigation agency to interrogate former Karnataka minister and mining baron Gali Janardhana Reddy and five other accused in the case of multi-crore iron ore exports scam from Belekeri port on the state's west coast.
Granting its plea for five-day custody of the accused till March 12, 2013, Justice BM Angadi directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to keep them in city's central jail but conduct the interrogation at its office on their alleged role in the illegal export of around 5.1 million tonnes of iron ore from the state-run port, about 450 km from Bangalore from January 2009 to May 2010.
Reddy, who is lodged in the Chanchalguda jail in Hyderabad since Sept 2011 in connection with another mining scam case in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, was brought to Bangalore earlier in the day by the CBI's state branch on a transit warrant to question the involvement of his another firm - Associated Mining Company (AMC) - in the export scam.
The other accused include Reddy's associates in the AMC and Oballapuram Mining Company (OMC) Ali Khan, Nataraj and K Mahesh.
The Supreme Court directed the CBI to probe the export scam on the recommendation of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) it had set up to inquire into illegal mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The illegal export from the port was first brought to light in mid-2010 by then Karnataka ombudsman (Lokayukta) Justice N Santosh Hegde.
In his report, Hegde had said 7.74 million tonnes of iron ore was illegally exported between 2006-2007 and 2010-2011.
The report said bribes were paid in various forms to facilitate illegal export of iron ore extracted dubiously from the mineral-rich districts of Bellary and Chitradurga in the northern region of the state.
An unfazed Reddy, however, told reporters outside the court that the CBI was acting like a "Congress Bureau of Investigation" and he was being framed for political reasons.
"The CBI is not acting like the country's investigation agency but that of the Congress with vendetta. I have full faith in the judiciary to come out clean in these cases, which have been thrust on us with political motives. God is watching and people have faith in us," Reddy asserted.