The former Lokayukta, N. Santosh Hegde, has criticised the observations made in the order of a Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court quashing the portion of the 2011 Lokayukta report on illegal mining that had indicted the former Chief Minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa.
The report had charged Mr. Yeddyurappa with taking illegal gratification for granting mining leases.
Mr. Hegde said the Lokayukta report was neither “bad in law” nor violative of the principles of natural justice.
In its verdict, the Bench comprising Justices K. Bhaktavatsala and K. Govindarajulu, stated that Mr. Yeddyurappa was “condemned unheard” as the Lokayukta did not issue notice to him, thus violating the principles of natural justice.
“Under Section 7(2) (A) and (B) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act there is no need to issue notice, according to a 1990 judgment of the High Court,” Mr. Hegde told The Hindu .
“Even in the first Lokayukta report we did not issue any notice to the former Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh. Having been in the profession for 40 years, I presume I have knowledge of what constitutes natural justice and in which cases such notices must be given. There were three Chief Ministers, two ministers and 797 officers who were indicted in the report. If I was legally required to issue notices to them, it would have stretched on like the Ayodhya case.
“The view that taking a bribe before extending an official favour does not establish corruption is totally wrong,” the former Lokayukta said, referring to the observation by the Bench that there was no evidence of corruption by Mr. Yeddyurappa provided in the report. “No one will give a bribe after receiving a favour,” he said. “Why would a mining company that was in the red, borrow money from its parent company to give Rs. 10 crore by cheque to an unrelated educational trust located in another district, and then give another Rs. 20 crore to purchase one acre of land from Mr. Yeddyurappa's sons and son-in-law, when the guideline value of the land was only Rs. 1.24 crore? Is this not a gratification when there were proposals for mining leases by these companies pending with the State government at the time?”
“The Supreme Court has said that an FIR can be quashed only on two grounds,” said Mr. Hegde. “The first is if the investigation is conducted by an unauthorised agency, and the second is if it can be proved that the investigation is actuated by malice.”
The Lokayukta police is an authorised agency, and institutions cannot be assumed to be biased, he said. “Therefore it stands to reason that it must be Santosh Hegde who entertained malice towards Mr. Yeddyurappa, and I should have been made a party and questioned.”