Gujarat Agriculture Minister Babu Bokhiria and his three relatives were acquitted by Porbandar District and Sessions Court on Monday in the Rs 54 crore illegal limestone mining case of 2006. The court granted plea of the four and set aside judgement of a magisterial court which had held them guilty last year and sentenced them to three years of imprisonment.
Declaring its verdict on the criminal miscellaneous applications filed by Bokhoria, former Congress MP and Bokhiria’s relative Bharat Odedra, Bhima Dula Odedra and Laxman Bhima Odedra, the court of additional sessions judge MV Zala acquitted them of all charges. “My client has been acquitted of all charges and I am happy that justice has been delivered,” Bokhiria’s advocate Anil Desai told The Indian Express.
“While acquitting the four, the sessions court also trashed judgement of the lower court,” Kanu Odedra, advocate of Bhima Odedra said.
A court of chief judicial magistrate of Porbandar had held Bokhiria and others guilty in June last year under Section 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code for mining limestone worth Rs 54 crore from lease area of Saurashtra Chemical Limited, a private cement company having operations in Porbandar district. The court had sentenced the four to three years in jail and imposed fine of Rs 5,000 each.
Saurashtra Chemical had filed a police complaint in 2006 and the case had been dogging Bokhiria since. He was arrested and jailed in 2007-08 in this connection and could not contest 2007 Assembly elections due to an externment order against him.
After pronouncing them guilty, the court had granted the four interim bail. As the convicts filed the revision applications, the sessions court had released them on bail till final disposal of their pleas. Besides, Bokhiria had separately filed an appeal seeking suspension of the guilty verdict of the trial court. The sessions court had granted his pleas in July last year and it was later upheld by the Gujarat High Court.