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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Setback for Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappa as court orders further probe in old corruption case

The current legal setbacks for CM Yediyurappa have come at a time when there is churning within the BJP over his leadership, style of functioning, and alleged interference in administration by the chief minister's son B Y Vijayendra.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: July 4, 2021 5:17:47 am
B S Yediyurappa, Karnataka, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karnataka news, Karnataka assembly, india news, indian expressKarnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa. (File photo)

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa Saturday suffered a legal setback as a special court for elected representatives rejected a closure report filed by the Karnataka Lokayukta over allegations of corruption in land deals dating back to a tenure when Yediyurappa was Deputy Chief Minister.

90th Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge Shridhar Gopalakrishna Bhat rejected a “B” report for closure of investigations against Yediyurappa in a private complaint filed in 2013 saying that the probe was only perfunctory. The Karnataka High Court had ordered the investigation of the case in December last year.

“The B final report submitted by the investigation officer under section 173(2) of Cr.P.C is hereby rejected. Consequently, acting under section 156(3) of Cr.P.C. the Deputy Superintendent of Police attached to the police wing of Karnataka Lokayuktha, Bengaluru is hereby directed to investigate the matter further,” the special court ruled Saturday.

“The investigation officer shall keep in mind the observations made by the High Court in W.P.No.5043/2019 with regard to the delay in conducting investigation,” the special court stated while calling for a report to be filed on the probe by August 21.

The Lokayukta police who were asked by the Karnataka High Court in December last year to probe corruption allegations against Yediyurappa had reported to the special court on January 18, 2021 that “no offence” under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 had been committed by Yediyurappa.

The allegation is that Yediyurappa, as deputy CM, illegally de-notified parts of nearly 434 acres of land that had been acquired by the state for an Information Technology corridor between the Whitefield and Electronic City IT hubs “for illegal gain” through a July 21, 2006 government notification.

A corruption case was taken up by the Lokayukta police in February 2015 based on a private complaint filed in a court in 2013 by a citizen Vasudev Reddy.

The special court said the Lokayukta had conducted only a perfunctory investigation of the allegations against the Karnataka CM and that a prudent probe was not done.

The special court said in its order that “since the final report submitted by the I.O. (investigation officer) does not instill the confidence of the court, the first option available to the court to accept the final report and to drop the proceedings cannot be opted”.

Yediyurappa had approached the Karnataka high court in 2019 with a plea to quash the FIR registered in the case but the high court in an order issued on December 22, 2020 questioned the Lokayukta police over its failure to conduct a probe in the case for five years and directed the agency to expedite its probe.

Yediyurappa had approached the high court with a plea to quash the FIR on the grounds that a case against one of the other accused persons in the case – the former industries minister R V Deshpande of the Congress party – had been quashed by the high court on October 9, 2015.

The court refused to accept the submission by Yediyurappa’s advocates that he is accused in the very same FIR as R V Deshpande and that the case should be quashed since an investigation against him based on the very same FIR would be illegal.

“I find that distinct and separate allegations are made against the petitioner (accused No.2) which read as under:- The then Deputy Chief Minister Mr. B.S. Yediyurappa also recklessly denotified land, disregarding the fact that the possession was taken and land was allotted to entrepreneurs,” a single judge of the high court said in his December 22, 2020 order of refusal to quash the FIR against the Karnataka CM.

“This allegation prima facie discloses a cognizance offence in so far as the petitioner is concerned which needs to be investigated. A reading of the complaint clearly indicates that the petitioner is sought to be prosecuted for the independent act of denotification of the land done by him during his tenure as the Deputy Chief Minister,” the high court had stated.

The Lokayukta police however filed a closure report in the case on January 18, 2021. The closure was challenged on behalf of the original complainant Vasudev Reddy.

The complainant argued that Yediyurappa as the DCM between 2006 and 2007 transferred government property to private persons and deprived the state of high value property while “enriching private persons without any public interest”.

Since December 2020 when the high court ordered the speedy conduct of the Bellandur land denotification probe against Yediyurappa the Karnataka chief minister has seen many old cases of corruption returning to haunt him even as new cases have been filed.

In January this year the high court refused to interfere with a corruption case registered against Yediyurappa in 2015 on the basis of a complaint by an activist Jayakumar Hiremath – where the chief minister is accused of releasing government acquired land to members of the family of former JDS chief minister H D Kumaraswamy in 2010.

The case was dormant in the courts since 2015 and was restored in July 2019 when Yediyurappa became the chief minister of Karnataka again. Yediyurappa had approached the Karnataka high court in 2017 for the quashing of the case.

In another case the high court in January has allowed a plea for restoration of a corruption complaint against Yediyurappa and the former state industries minister Murugesh Nirani for allegedly reneging on a commitment to grant 26 acres of land to a private investor Alam Pasha in 2011. The private complaint case filed against Yediyurappa by Pasha was earlier quashed by a sessions court on August 26, 2016.

Yediyurappa has obtained stay orders from the Supreme Court in these two cases where the high court has refused to intervene.

Last week, on June 30, the special court hearing matters related to elected representatives posted its decision on a private complaint seeking a probe into alleged corruption and money laundering by chief minister B S Yediyurappa, members of his family and others to July 8.

A social activist T J Abraham has filed the private complaint against the Karnataka CM and others seeking directions to file an FIR or take up a case under the Prevention of Corruption and Prevention of Money Laundering Acts.

The complaint has named Yediyurappa, a minister S T Somashekhar, an IAS officer G C Prakash, the chief minister’s son B Y Vijayendra, his grandson Sashidhar Maradi, a son-in-law Virupakshappa Yamakanamaradi, and a relative Sanjay Sree.

The complaint is based on bribery and money laundering allegations that appeared in the media against the Karnataka CM and others last year with reference to clearances given for implementation of a housing project by a private firm the Ramalingam Construction Company Limited and promises of awarding other contracts to the firm by persons close to the CM.

The allegations pertain to alleged bribes amounting to over Rs 12 crore for contracts – including Rs five crore that was received by companies linked to the chief minister’s grandson from multiple Kolkata shell companies last year. The complaint has called for a court monitored probe into the allegations against Yediyurappa and others.

Yediyurappa was forced to quit as the chief minister of Karnataka in 2011 after serving from 2008 when the Karnataka Lokayukta named him in a report on illegal mining in the state. He was also prosecuted by the CBI but the case was quashed by a sessions court in Bengaluru.

Yediyurappa became the chief minister again in July 2019 with the support of a group of 17 rebels from the Congress and JDS after the BJP won 105 seats in the 2018 polls and fell eight short of a majority in the 224 member Karnataka assembly.

The current legal setbacks for the chief minister has come at a time when there is churning within the BJP over Yediyurappa’s leadership, style of functioning and alleged interference in administration by the chief minister’s son B Y Vijayendra

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