In fresh setbacks to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, the Karnataka High Court has refused to quash the Lokayukta FIR in a 2015 corruption case pertaining to his earlier tenure as Chief Minister and also allowed restoration of a 2014 private complaint against him.
On December 22, the court had refused to quash another corruption case registered in 2015 by the Lokayukta.
The court on Tuesday refused to interfere with a corruption case registered against Yediyurappa in 2015 on a complaint by activist Jayakumar Hiremath, accusing him of releasing land acquired by the government to members of the family of former CM H D Kumaraswamy in 2010.
Kumaraswamy is also an accused in the case.
According to the case registered by Lokayukta police, the state government acquired 1.11 acres through Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) in Bengaluru to create a layout in 1976-77 after paying landowners compensation, but the land was denotified in favour of a private party in 2010 when Yediyurappa was Chief Minister.
As per the complaint, the move to denotify the land began in 2007 when Kumaraswamy was Chief Minister after a request was filed by one M Rajashekharaiah, who claimed to be in possession of the land. The proposal was reportedly objected to by state officials at the time. Later, when Yediyurappa became Chief Minister, a request was made again and denotification was executed, it is alleged.
After denotification, the land was allegedly transferred to Vimala S, mother-in-law of Kumaraswamy, who had obtained power of attorney for the land. She executed a sale deed in favour of her son Dr T S Chenappa, as per the complaint.
Yediyurappa and Kumaraswamy have been accused of misusing their positions and colluding with others on the basis of fake documents for “unjust monetary gain” and causing losses to BDA.
In its order rejecting Yediyurappa’s plea to quash the FIR, a single-judge bench of Justice John Michael Cunha Tuesday said “the allegations made in the complaint and the material produced in support thereof, in my view, prima facie disclose the ingredients of the offences alleged against the petitioner warranting a thorough investigation”.
Counsel of Yediyurappa have contended that the land was not eventually handed over to the beneficiaries, making the case redundant.
Justice Cunha also imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Chief Minister.
In the second case, the high court allowed a plea for restoration of a corruption complaint against Yediyurappa and former state industries minister Murugesh Nirani for allegedly reneging on a commitment to grant 26 acres to private investor Alam Pasha in 2011. The private complaint case filed by Pasha was quashed by a sessions court in 2016.
Pasha, MD of a firm Pash Space International Ltd, has alleged that he participated in a global investors’ meet and proposed a Rs 600-crore housing project for which he was granted 26 acres in June 2010, but the grant was cancelled in March 2011.
A private complaint by Pasha in 2012 was referred to Lokayukta police and a chargesheet filed in 2013. The case was quashed after Yediyurappa approached the high court with a plea that police failed to obtain sanction for investigating the case against him.
After Yediyurappa’s stepped down as Chief Minister, Pasha filed a fresh PCR, stating that no sanction is needed to prosecute Yediyurappa since he was no longer holding public office. The case was, however, dismissed in 2016 on the grounds that the earlier complaint was quashed for want of a sanction to investigate and prosecute Yediyurappa.
Justice Cunha Tuesday ruled that quashing of an earlier complaint for want of a sanction “will not operate as a bar to maintain the instant complaint”.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah has called for Yediyurappa’s resignation in the wake of the high court clearing the investigation. On Wednesday, the AAP too issued a statement, calling for Yediyurappa to step down.
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