Former Karnataka minister and BJP leader Hartal Halappa was acquitted of rape charges by the Shivamoga Second Additional District and Sessions Court. The court gave clean chit to Yeddyurappa loyalist in a 2010 sexual assault case, citing lack of evidence.
The trial in the case went on for almost seven years and saw Halappa, then a cabinet minister, resigning over charges of rape. The court cleared all charges against the BJP leader citing lack of evidence against him and inconsistency in complainant’s statements.
Halappa was accused of raping his friend Venkatesh Murthy’s wife when he stayed in their residence on November 29, 2009. The couple, however, filed a complaint against the then minister only in 2010, almost six months after the alleged incident. Venkateshmurthy, the alleged victim’s husband had submitted video proof of the incident on a CD.
The incident had caused huge uproar and Halappa, who was then a cabinet minister in the Yeddyurappa-led government. He resigned reportedly to save the BJP ministry from embarrassment.
The court observed that the complainant had changed his statements at least nine times.
The BJP leader thanked his supporters and claimed he was hopeful of “getting justice.”
With assembly elections around the corner, Halappa is vying for a ticket to contest from the Soraba constituency. However, Kumar Bangarappa, who deserted the Congress to join the BJP, is also an aspirant from the same place.
Halappa was a three-time MLA from the Sorab constituency in Shivamogga district. Shivamogga is also the home district of BJP stalwarts Yeddyurappa and K.S. Eshwarappa.