Did the Upalokayukta or his office in Bangalore call the Commissioner of Kolar City Municipality over telephone to get a tenant evicted from a private property?
The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday asked this question to the counsel representing the office of the Lokayukta.
Justice A.N. Venugopala Gowda was hearing a petition filed by K.M. Venkatachalapathi, who runs an eatery in a rented building at Gowripura, Kolar.
The petitioner claimed the Commissioner, on December 4, wrote a letter to the jurisdictional police inspector to send police personnel to the eatery, based on a telephone call from the Upalokayukta “ordering” him to evict the petitioner from the premises. The Commissioner wrote another letter to the police on December 7 reminding them of the eviction.
The petitioner said he had been running the eatery, SVS Mess, since 1994–95 on property belonging to N. Sarvamangala. He had valid licence from the municipality and had renewed it every year.
However, owing to certain issues over tenancy, he had approached the Kolar civil court, which on October 30, 2013, granted an ex-parte temporary injunction against his eviction from the property. On November 5, G. Ramesh Babu, general power of attorney holder of the property owner, filed an objection with the Commissioner against the licence granted to the eatery, saying the tenancy agreement had been discontinued. On November 12, the commissioner issued notice to the petitioner saying the licence would be automatically cancelled if he did not stop business within seven days.
The petitioner said he had replied to the notice, arguing that the Commissioner could not interfere in tenancy disputes, as it had to be adjudicated in the civil court as per the Rent Act.
The Commissioner then wrote to the police.
On the High Court’s direction, the Commissioner filed an affidavit saying he “received a telephone call from the office of the Upalokayukta”; this was contrary to what he said in the letters to the police, that it was the Upalokayukta that called him.
Noticing the variations in the Commissioner’s statement, the High Court asked the counsel to find out more about the calls, while observing that the Upalokayukta should know whether someone in his office was indulging in such mischief.
The court was informed that Kolar comes under the jurisdiction of Upalokayukta II.