New Delhi/Bangalore: In a severe setback to former Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, a Supreme Court-appointed panel on Friday recommended probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into kickbacks by mining companies to his family members.

The Central Empowered Committee on environmental matters, which has been probing massive illegal mining in Karnataka, also suggested probe into possible link between these payments and the grant of mining lease to a businessman, Praveen Chandra, during Yeddyurappa's tenure.

The committee presented its recommendation to the Supreme Court's forest bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia in New Delhi on Friday.

In Bangalore, Yeddyurappa put up a brave front saying that it is only a recommendation and not a final order. “I have full faith in the Supreme Court. I will get justice. The CEC has only made a recommendation. Final decision will be that of the Supreme Court,” he told reporters.

Yeddyurappa. BJP's first chief minister in Karnataka, was forced to quit July 31 last year after the then Lokaytukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde recommended his trial for bribery in a mining scam.

An NGO, Samaja Parivartana Samudaya, had submitted documents to the empowered committee seeking a CBI probe into charges that a trust run by Yeddyurappa's kin had benefited financially from mining companies in return for favours from Yeddyurappa.

Yeddyurappa's counsel had opposed such a probe on the ground that Karnataka High Court had on March 7 had set aside Hegde's report as 'bad in law' as principles of natural justice - that is giving an opportunity to Yeddyurappa to present his case - was not followed.

CBI PROBE RECOMMENDED AGAINST BSY KIN

The Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC)on environmental matters on Friday recommended to the Apex Court that the CBI probe payments made by a mining company to two firms owned by close relatives of former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

The committee, in its recommendation to the forest bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, also sought investigation into whether there was any link between these payments and the grant of mining lease to one person named, Praveen Chandra, during Yeddyurappa's tenure.

The other factor that the panel considered was the allegations made against the Jindal Group as being the recipient of large quantities of illegally mined material and undue favour being shown to them in respect of mining lease of MM Limited.

According to CEC, Prerana Education Society set up by the close relatives of Yeddyurappa received two donations worth Rs 10 crores during March 2010 from South West Mining Ltd, a Jindal group company.

(JPN/Agencies)