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Plea in SC against clean chit to Yeddyurappa

Source: PTI
March 21, 2012 21:25 IST
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The Karnataka High Court's verdict, quashing the complaint registered by the state Lokayukta against former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa was on Wednesday challenged before the Supreme Court.

The appeal against the high court's order was filed by original complainant Srijan Basha, who had earlier approached the state Lok Ayukta for registration of the case against Yeddyurappa.

In his Special Leave Petition, filed through counsel Prashant Kumar, Basha submitted that he was not made a party to the Yeddyurapa's plea to the high court against the Lokayukta decision and the high court passed its judgement on March 7 without hearing him.

Basha argued that quashing the state governor's sanction to prosecute Yeddyurapa was 'bad in law and impermissible in law and against a catena of judgment and position of law settled by the apex court'.

In a major legal triumph for the BJP state strongman Yeddyurappa, the Karnataka High Court had earlier declared as "bad in law" a chapter in the Lokayukta report that indicted him on illegal mining, causing his exit as chief minister and quashed the FIR against him based on it.

Basha argued in his petition that as the state did not contest the case in the high court, he has reasons to believe "that neither the state nor Lokayukta police will prefer a Special Leave Petition due to political pressure and pressure by Sh Yeddurappa."

He submitted the complaint filed by him before the Lokayukta regarding the transaction involving payment of money by South West Mining Corporation was made a ground of challenge in the writ petition, but despite this no notice was issued to him by the high court.

The complainant lamented that the findings of the high court had adversely affected the trial of five other complaint cases filed by him before the Lokayukta on which summons have been issued to Yeddyurappa and other accused.

The petition further said the high court, in exercise of its powers under Section 482 of CrPC, has 'grossly erred by quashing the FIR on ground of denial of opportunity as FIR requires only prima facie material to commence investigation, which is very much on record and has been completely ignored by the high court'.

A division bench of the high court comprising justices K Bhakstavatsala and K Govindarajulu had earlier on March 7, quashed Chapter 22 of the Lokayukta report on illegal mining, which had indicted him of committing various acts of omission and commission to favour a mining firm on the basis of which the FIR was filed.

The report on illegal mining submitted by the then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde last July had caused a political turmoil for the first ever BJP government in the south, culminating in Yeddyurappa's exit under pressure from the party central leadership, which had taken on the UPA on corruption.

The high court had observed that the chapter 22 was "bad in law" and did not indicate any favours shown by Yeddyurappa as the chief minister to any mining company.

The chapter had referred to donation of Rs 10 crore by South West Mining Company to Prerana Trust, owned and managed by Yeddyurappa's family members, and also the purchase of 1.20 acres by the same firm for Rs 20 crore from his kin. It had opined these payments were made by the firm to seek official favours.

The high court had held the prosecution was against the principles of natural justice as no opportunity was given by the Lokayukta to Yeddyurappa before passing the strictures against him.

"The petitioner was condemned unheard and there is flagrant violation of principles of natural justice, fairness in administrative action and statutory provision. In a nut shell, there is no material placed on record to establish that the petitioner has shown any official favour to the companies", the judges observed.

Finding fault with methodology adopted for the probe by Lokayukta, the court noted "the scheme of Lokayukta Act does not deal with public interest matters. It is bound to follow principles of natural justice. There is no material produced by the Lokayukta to establish that the petitioner has done any favour to any of the alleged companies during the period

2007 to 2010", it said.

The high court had further held that "suspicion cannot be a ground to tarnish the image and reputation of a person who is holding a constitutional post."

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