Legal Correspondent

High Court had directed framing of charges against Principal Secretary

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday extended the stay of two Karnataka High Court orders directing the framing of charges in a contempt of court case against the Principal Secretary, Department of Commerce and Industries, K.M. Shivkumar, for alleged violation of a court order relating to acquisition of land for the Bangalore-Mysore Expressway Project.

A Bench of Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice Markandey Katju extended the stay and issued notice to the respondent landowners who initiated the contempt proceedings.

On Monday, when the matter was taken up, Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for Mr. Shivkumar, submitted that powers had been delegated to the special land acquisition officer to consider objections from the landowners. He had considered and rejected their objections, and the matter was now pending with Mr. Shivkumar for passing appropriate orders. He indicated that the Government might pass orders withdrawing the acquisition notification, and Mr. Shivkumar had committed no contempt.

Appearing for the landowners, senior counsel L. Nageswara Rao said contempt was committed by Mr. Shivkumar by not passing any order after the special land acquisition officer decided on the objections. He said the landowners were not interested in proceeding with the contempt case if the acquisition notifications were withdrawn.

NICE contention

Senior counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises Ltd., which also filed a special leave petition against the High Court orders, alleged that these proceedings were initiated to bring pressure on the Government to defeat the judgment of the apex court in the expressway project.