As the wait continues for the State Government to notify the amendments to the Karnataka Lokayutka Act, there is curiosity over the manner in which Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde will exercise his suo motu powers — an authority to conduct an inquiry without any complaint and take action against government officials falling under his jurisdiction.
One such case that is waiting to catch the Lokayukta's eye is the preliminary inquiry reports related to the encroachment of Turahalli Minor forest, which is located in the midst of the Bangalore Development Authority's Banashankari 6th Stage. The BDA was accused of encroaching upon 35 acres of the forest land for the new layout. The Forest Department later got back their land and planted saplings on the encroached portion.
The then Upa Lokayuta G. Patri Basavana Goud took suo motu notice of media reports about the encroachment and ordered the former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests S. Parameshwarappa and the then Principal Secretary, Revenue, S.M. Jaamdar, to conduct a preliminary investigation in 2006.
The two submitted their reports to the Upa Lokayutka in February 2007. Mr. Parameshwarappa pointed out that fraudulent land documents were created and land was sold to a number of gullible buyers, including the BDA. The reports said that the BDA had gone ahead with acquisition of 42 acres of land and developed sites on the layout despite warnings to the contrary sent by the Forest Department to it.
Mr. Parameshwarappa found the then Kengeri Sub Registrar at fault for the creation of fake documents involving 75 acres of forest land.
These documents were created on the basis of a fake “Dhanapatra” signed by Sir Mirza Ismail, Dewan of Mysore. These fake documents were used to register 43 sale deeds between July 28, 2006 and August 17, 2006.
Mr. Parameshwarappa recommended criminal action against the then BDA Commissioner Jayakar Jerome, the then BDA Land Acquisition Officers Rameshappa and E. Chenagangappa and the then Under Secretary of the Urban Development Department, V.R. Ilkal.
But, no action was taken on the two reports as the officers against whom action was recommended were coming under the purview of the Lokayukta. No action was taken as the Lokayukta then did not have the power to take sou motu cognisance of the two reports.
In cold storage
Asked about the two reports, Mr. Hegde said, “I have to look at whether I can exercise suo motu power on the recommendations made at the time when I did not have such a power. The two reports are lying in cold storage,” he said.