The never ending Yeddy-Bhardwaj war

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

Reacting to yesterdays demand by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa seeking an apology, the Governor of Karnataka, H R Bharadwaj has made it clear that a request for prosecution cannot be ignored in the interest of democratic principles.

The Governor of Karnataka wrote back to the Chief Minister in the light of a Cabinet decision which requested the Governor not to grant sanction for prosecution of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister in connection with a land scam. Two lawyers had petitioned the Governor seeking action against Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa and Home Minister, R Ashok in connection with a land scam. The governor had said that he was looking into this and if there was enough material he would sanction the prosecution of both the leaders.

However the Cabinet had met and wrote back to the Governor saying that it would be unwarranted for him to order the prosecution of the CM and the Home Minister. They also pointed out that the government had already set up a commission to look into the issue of land scams and hence the Governor’s actions would be unwarranted.

However the letter by the Cabinet has had very little effect on the governor. He has written back to the Chief Minister stating that in the interest of the democratic principles he cannot ignore the request for prosecution. I am required to and also entitled to an independent decision on the basis of the material provided to me. Hence a Cabinet decision recommending that I drop proceedings is completely unwarranted.

The war of words is expected to continue since the Yeddyurappa camp is no mood to tone down. They are stepping up the pressure against the Governor and will seek his removal. In this regard they would be meeting with the President of India on January 24th. In addition to this the CM has also said that that the Governor should aplogise for his remarks in which he referred to Yeddyurappa as a thief. The Core committee of the BJP in Karnataka is also meeting to discuss this issue further.

Content of Governor’s letter:

You are aware, allegations relating to land scams, corruption and manipulation of rules and regulations regarding acquisition and denotifying of public lands regularly appeared in the media since September, 2010. Allegations of serious nature of corruption were leveled against the high office of the Chief Minister of the State by various groups, which delivered representations to me personally, thus creating a cloud on your personal integrity. You will recall that I addressed the letter of 15.12.2010 seeking factual information from you on the allegations levelled against you. In your reply dated 19.12.2010, you furnished no details and simply stated that the allegations were politically motivated and without any basis. However, you informed me that cases relating to land scams have been referred to a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Padmaraj, a retired Judge of the High Court.
On 28.12.2010, two Advocates namely Shri Sirajin Basha and Shri K.N.Balaraj came to Raj Bhavan with the petition that the land scams involving the Chief Minister are not being allowed to be investigated by the investigating agencies and even the Lokayukta Police refused to accept their complaint. Therefore, they intended to file a complaint before the designated Special Court and that they need a sanction to prosecute the Chief Minister and Home Minister. They also delivered large volumes of documents in support of their allegations.

When you visited Raj Bhavan for a courtesy call on 31.12.2010, I informed you of the receipt of this petition from the Advocates and during the discussion I informed you that this will have to be disposed of expeditiously and this cannot be kept pending indefinitely.
With your letter dated 19.01.2011, you sent to me a Cabinet decision dated 19.01.2011. The sum and substance of the Cabinet decision is it simply requires me to put a lid on the serious allegations of corruption against you. In this connection, I draw your attention to the dictum of the Supreme Court of India in M.P.Special Police Establishment vs. State of M.P. (2004) 8 SCC 788 wherein the Court held.

If on these facts and circumstances, the Governor cannot act in his own discretion there would be a complete breakdown of Rule of Law in as much as it would then be open for Governments to refuse sanction in spite of overwhelming material showing that a prima-facie case is made out. If, in cases where prima-facie case is clearly made out, sanction to prosecute high functionaries is refused or withheld, democracy itself will be at stake. It would then lead to a situation where people in power may break the Law with impunity safe in the knowledge they will not be prosecuted as the requisite sanction will not be granted”.
In the light of the above judgment, the Governor is entitled to and required to take an independent decision on the basis of the material available and therefore the Cabinet decision recommending to drop the consideration of the petition itself is unwarranted.

Author: Vicky Nanjappa

just a reporter

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