Not out of the woods yet


While B.S. Yeddyurappa has reasons to be pleased by the recent Karnataka High Court judgment quashing the FIR registered by the Lokayukta police against him, he has no cause to be elated. For though the Court flatly rejected the portion of the Lokayukta report that indicted him in the illegal mining scam and invalidated the sanction given by the Governor to prosecute him, the judgment should not be read as an acquittal, as some of Mr. Yeddyurappa's overzealous supporters have done. The main thrust of the verdict is directed at what the Court construed as the serious procedural infirmities in the Lokayukta's report. It held that the former Lokayukta, Santosh Hegde, had erred in recommending the initiation of criminal proceedings against Mr. Yeddyurappa without calling for an explanation from him as required under Section 9 (3) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act. It also maintained that the portion of the Lokayukta report that related to the former Chief Minister was outside the scope of the reference made to the quasi-judicial body by the Karnataka government under Section 7 (2) of the same Act.

The fact that the High Court objected to the Lokayukta's report on such broad procedural grounds should not detract attention from two serious allegations made against Mr. Yeddyurappa and his kin on the mining issue. The first relates to the donation of Rs. 10 crore received by a trust managed by his children from a company with mining interests. The second relates to the sale proceeds of Rs. 20 crore received by his kin from another such company for a piece of land said to be worth only a fraction of the paid amount. The fact that these transactions took place is not contested. The Karnataka High Court may be correct in pointing out that there is no evidence to show that Mr. Yeddyurappa — who was neither Chief Minister nor Minister for Mines when these companies received their leases — did anything to favour them. But surely no one can deny that the facts scream out for a full-fledged investigation that satisfactorily explains these mysterious payments. If the BJP is not in a hurry to reinstate Mr. Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister, it is because the party is aware that he is not out of the woods yet. The Karnataka High Court judgment could be challenged in the Supreme Court and there are other cases pending against him. More importantly, it is possible that the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), which was appointed by the Supreme Court to probe illegal mining in Karnataka, may indict him in its report or even go as far as recommending a CBI investigation into Mr. Yeddyurappa's role — something the State government has opposed. Temporary reprieve? Yes. A permanent release? No.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 3:53:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/not-out-of-the-woods-yet/article2988504.ece

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