The survival of the first Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka hangs by a thread with Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde indicting Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and proposing to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj that criminal action be initiated against Mr. Yeddyurappa.
A decision on the removal or continuance of Mr. Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister, however, rests with the BJP high command. It is the first time in the history of the State Lokayukta that a case has been made out against a Chief Minister.
Government authorities told The Hindu that soon after Chief Secretary to the State Government S.V. Ranganath received the report, legal experts including Advocate-General Ashok Haranahalli were closeted with the Chief Minister and senior Cabinet ministers to analyse the report and the possible fallout.
Raj Bhavan sources said the Governor had obtained a copy of the report and “will come out with the steps that he proposes to take” after perusing it. Legal experts have said that as per the provisions of the Constitution, the Governor can grant sanction on a prima facie complaint made out against the head of the government but cannot initiate criminal action.
Incidentally, the Lokayukta has called upon the Governor to initiate criminal proceedings rather than the Lokayukta investigation wing initiating action and seeking the sanction of the Governor for the same since the matter pertains to the head of the government.
Of the two cases made out against the Chief Minister — receipt of funds from a mining company for an education trust floated by his family members and another relating to sale of land at an exorbitant rate (far in excess of the guidance value) — one is already pending before the Lokayukta court following the sanction granted by the Governor on a private complaint.
The investigation by the Lokayukta into illegal mining was first ordered by the H.D. Kumaraswamy government subsequent to the Justice U.L. Bhat Commission of Inquiry, which was constituted in 2006 to go into mining irregularities in Bellary since 2000, with specific focus on the Rs. 150-crore bribery allegation against Mr. Kumaraswamy. The following year, the Kumaraswamy Cabinet wound up the inquiry commission after Justice Bhat resigned, and the matter was then referred to the Lokayukta with the same terms of reference.