SC to hear plea against Yeddyurappa on Monday

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 21 2012, 06:35am hrs
The Supreme Court will hear an appeal on Monday against the Karnataka High Court order that quashed an FIR lodged against state BJP leader and former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa in an illegal mining case based on the Lokayukta report that had caused his exit as chief minister in July last year.

The high court had last month struck down portions of the Lokayukta report, which accused him of complicity in illegal mining, and quashed the investigation report filed against him.

The appeal filed by counsel K V Sreekumar and drawn by counsel Kailash Pandey said that the High Court had erred in holding that there was no material placed on record to establish that Yeddyurappa had shown any official favour to the companies. "It is most respectfully submitted that the Lokayukta is the primary investigating authority and submits its recommendations on the basis of material that it has been able to collect. Thereafter, the due process of law has to be followed and appropriate proceedings initiated to establish the guilt or otherwise of the public servant," the petition said.

Finding fault with methodology adopted for the probe by Lokayukta, the high court in its judgment had 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.

Suspicion cannot be a ground to tarnish the image and reputation of a person who is holding a constitutional post. Even during the course of argument, a specific question was put to Lokayukta counsel to produce any material to connect the petitioner for alleged offences, but he was mum", the order stated.

"In a nutshell there is no material placed on record to establish that the petitioner has shown any official favour to companies," the order noted, rejecting the charge that a trust managed and owned by Yeddyurappa's family received R30 crore donations from South West Mining Company and Jindal Steel Works in anticipation of official favours. "We hold that the report of the Lokayukta is also not within the scope of reference made to it by the government for inquiring into illegal mining," the court said.

The verdict comes as a major morale booster for Yeddyurappa, who had quit the chief minister's post in the wake of his indictment by Lokayukta report on illegal mining submitted on July 27 by the then anti-corruption ombudsman Santosh Hegde.

The report had cited receipt of a R10 crore donation from South West Mining Company to the Prerana Trust owned and managed by Yeddyurpapa's family and another R20 crore paid for purchase of 1.02 acre in Rachenahalli by the mining firm.