Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily on Saturday backed Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and said he was a constitutional authority competent to sanction the prosecution of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
Responding to questions from journalists here, Mr. Moily said the Governor had called for all records and the transactions showed that there was a clear case of corruption. The Chief Minister did not enjoy immunity and there was no option for the Governor but to grant sanction. Pointing out that Mr. Yeddyurappa had been charged with corruption and nepotism, he said what the Chief Minister had done was legally and morally incorrect. He criticised him for continuing in office without any qualms.
“With what face is the BJP saying they are fighting corruption? They are taking to the streets to defend this corrupt man. This is a travesty of justice.”
Aked if the Congress was trying to divert attention from other pressing issues, he said Mr. Yeddyurappa's case was not new.
He said the Congress was dealing firmly with the 2G spectrum scam and had instituted a CBI inquiry. The party was open and transparent. In contrast, the BJP wanted to brush the corruption issue under the carpet. The former Supreme Court judge, Shivaraj V. Patil, would submit a report by month-end on the 2G spectrum scam.
On black money parked in secret accounts abroad, Mr. Moily said there were mutual treaties between countries governing these transactions and this was meant for taxation or evasion of tax. The treaty did not permit divulging names of people. There were certain binding principles which could not be flouted.
As for a ban on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Mr. Moily said terror had no boundary or trajectory. “I think the time has come to deal with terrorism firmly whichever source it comes from and we are not going to see the colour of the skin. We have framed many laws against terror,” he said.
He agreed that whoever was innocent must not be punished or tortured. He also said cases involving terrorism must be fast-tracked, and that there had been changes in the law and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was created to deal with such cases.
On the BJP's demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam and the Commonwealth Games irregularities, he said the government had already instituted a CBI inquiry. Justice Patil was investigating procedural aspects of the 2G scam, and a probe was being carried out by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
“Where is the space for the JPC?” he asked. “What will happen to the other inquiries?” The BJP, he alleged, was trying to subvert the ongoing probes.
Mr. Moily also said the Centre had decided to ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption soon.
The National Democratic Alliance government had not done so when in power, he said.
At Friday's meeting of the Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the government decided to introduce in Parliament a separate bill on corruption in pursuance of the U.N. convention.
Mr. Moily said the bill would be put on the fast track. A five-point strategy to fight corruption had been mandated by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.