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Karnataka CM in trouble again over land scam

By Vicky Nanjappa
November 27, 2010 23:43 IST
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Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde on Saturday issued a notice to Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on a complaint lodged against himĀ in connection to alleged denotification of lands.

Earlier on Saturday, the Lokayukta expressed regret over his decision to withdraw his resignation over the government's inaction about the massive corruption in the state. While addressing the media at Bengaluru on Saturday, Justice Hegde said that he cannot now undo what has been done and he cannot resign again.

The Lokayukta was speaking in the context of a probe being ordered into the land scams in the last ten years by the Karnataka government. Justice Hegde felt that another inquiry cannot be conducted since the matter was already pending before the Lokayukta.

"I had written a letter to the chief secretary explaining the same, but I did not receive any reply. Later, I get a letter from the principal secretary, asking me to give a list of the progress that has been made in all the cases pending before me," said Justice Hegde.

"I have written a letter with all the details and in the letter I have mentioned that there were 14 cases before me against the chief minister of Karnataka. Of these cases, I have closed 8 cases and no notices were issued to the chief minister. However there is one case in which I have found a prima facie case and I have issued a notice to him. This matter is under probe," Justice Hegde said.

He refused to divulge more details and said that since it was an official communication, he could not reveal more.

The anti-corruption watchdog's action has come as a further embarrassment to Yeddyurappa, who only recently survived a threat to his position.

Hegde also rejected allegations of being biased against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and favouring some other political parties.

On the government ordering a judicial probe into the alleged land scams when the matter is pending before the Lokayukta, Hegde said, "Trying to take away a legitimate
investigation without even discussing it is an insult to the institution. It is not at all proper."

Hegde, who is also peeved with the government for seeking a status report on various cases entrusted to the Lokayukta after he questioned the manner in which a judicial
probe was ordered overlooking him, retorted, "When there are 39 cases before me -- between 2000 to 2010 -- why does the government want to know the status of investigation only in seven cases?

"I have no doubt that it is with a view to project me as a pro-Janata Dal - Secular or a pro-Congress person. I flatly deny it. I have no such prejudices," he said.

Asked if he would quit in the wake of fresh developments, Hegde said he regretted his earlier decision to withdraw his resignation.

"In retrospect I feel I made a mistake by taking back my resignation. I think I would not have been in the dilemma that I am in today but it's too late. I cannot go on resigning and coming back and resigning and coming back, which may not be appreciated by anybody,"
he said.

Hegde attributed the delay in commencing the probe to lack of documents and pendency of some cases before the high court.

On the seven cases on which the government had sought status reports, he said, "All necessary measures have been taken, public notices have been given and an investigation is already on in these cases."

Expressing displeasure over motives attributed to him by a section of a political party, which he did not name, he said he harboured no prejudice against any party.

"I want to explain my stand to a section of political party attributing malice and prejudice to me. I presume I am taking up investigation against the chief minister and members
of his cabinet in mortal hurry, all because of collateral reasons. I want to tell them I have no such malice against any political party," he said.

Maintaining that he has been impartial in discharging his duties, Hegde said, "I do not have any hatred against the BJP or the chief minister. If I had any hatred, I would not have closed eight cases without even issuing notices."

Earlier the Lokayukta came under attack from four BJP legislators for being critical of the Yeddyurappa government. S R Vishwanath, Satish Reddy, Ramappa Lamani and
Suresh Gowda, addressing a press conference, took exception to certain remarks made by Hegde against Yeddyurappa.

Vishwanath and Gowda went to the extent of demanding that Hegde tender an apology to the chief minister, failing which they would stage a dharna in front of the Lokayukta's office.

Reacting sharply to the MLA's criticism, Hegde said, "They are free to do whatever they want. I will do what is required of me as Lokayukta."

Additional inputs by PTI

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