Will Aadhaar data with private persons be deleted? De-coding the SC verdict with Justice Hegde

Santosh-HegdeNew Delhi, Sep 26: The Aadhaar verdict is out and by a 4:1 majority the Supreme Court has held it as constitutional. There were however several riders, the major one being with regard to private companies such as cellular firms and banks collecting Aadhaar details in order to avail their services.

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Brahmachari peacock: Uphold seriousness of judiciary says Justice Hegde

Santosh-HegdeThe internet was flooded with jokes and memes on a comment made by retired Rajasthan High Court judge on the ‘brahmachari’ peacock. Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma, judge of the Rajasthan High Court said on Wednesday that peacocks do not have sex. They are celibate or brahmacharis and it is their tears that gets the peahen pregnant. While many have laughed at the comments, there are others who were part of the Indian Judicial system who are angry. Justice N Santhosh Hegde, retired judge of the Supreme Court of India says that there should be some amount of seriousness.

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Kejriwal vs Modi?

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Can kejriwal check mate rise of Narendra Modi? This is a question that is being asked by many at least in New Delhi following the impressive performance of the Aam Admi Party.

Rediff.com speaks to a cross section of people on the above stated factor. Many are of the view that while Arvind Kejriwal did represent a major change, at the national level it may take much more time before he could dent a Narendra Modi.

Professor Apoorvanand, Delhi University: looking at the way Kejriwal has been growing I see a distinct possibility that he may pose a threat or alternative to Modi. People want a credible face who display confidence in what he or she says. Parties like the Congress which are considered to be secular deterred on this confidence. Congress does not want to be seen as helping the Muslims as they fear they may anger the Hindus. An alternate would be looked into since the secularism of the Congress is empty and Rahul Gandhi does not carry any conviction. An arrogant Congress does not even allow another face to emerge.

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11 retirements in SC- A co-incidence like never before

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Almost one third of the judges in the Supreme Court would retire next year. This means 11 judges of the Supreme Court will retire and new judges will be elevated to the highest court of the land.

What would be the implications of this? Many would say this is a mere coincidence and it has never happened in the history of the Supreme Court.

Justice Santhosh Hegde former judge of the Supreme Court of India says that the outlook of the Supreme Court would change since one third of the judges would be retiring. This would mean that 11 new faces would be there at the Supreme Court and for any new judge it does take a certain amount of time to get accustomed to the proceedings. The Supreme Court isalready overburdened and did recently increase its strength.  But if 11 judges go at one shot it does create a shake up.

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Setback for S M Krishna

The Karnataka High Court on Friday ordered that the Lokayukta could investigate the case against S M Krishna to the extent of dereservation of forest blocks, a decision he is said to have taken in the year 2003 when he was Chief Minister of Karnataka. Justice N Ananda who also passed an order on H D Kumaraswamy ordered that the Lokayukta could probe the allegation that he had shown favour to a company called Sai Venkateshwara Minerals.
This would mean that the stay on the investigation against the two former CM’s has been lifted and the Lokayukta police can probe the matter.
The case to be probed against S M Krishna would involve the dereservation of 34 forest blocks which is said to have facilitated illegal mining.
A private complaint had been filed against S M Krishna, H D Kumaraswamy and Dharam Singh under various sections including the  Prevention of Corruption Act, Forest Conservation Act, Forest Act and Minerals and Metals Regulation and Development Act (MMRDA) and IPC. The complainant T Abraham had alleged that Krishna, who was the Chief Minister from October 1999 to May 2004, and Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy permitted illegal mining for pecuniary gains.
Abraham, a city-based social activist and a businessman, had submitted that his complaint was based on the report on illegal mining presented to the government by then Lokayukta Santosh Hegde in August.
When the complaint was take up first by the Lokayukta court, it had ordered investigation of the same. The police then filed a FIR after which the accused persons in the case approached the High Court and later obtained a stay order.

Justice Ananda also ordered that no investigation against Krishna would take place in case of the Mysore Minerals case. The grant of permission to mine in this case was questioned but the court observed that this decision falls under the Companies Act and would not come under the purview of the Chief Minister.
In so far as Kumaraswamy’s case the court ordered that the 150 crore bribery charge made by Janardhan Reddy shall not be probed. This was ordered in view of Reddy withdrawing an earlier petition he had filed in connection before the High Court in connection with the same case.

Why no noise about SMK then?

Corruption in the office of the Lokayukta office is a huge matter of debate today. A finger has been pointed at the office and its officers on how they continued to book cases of corruption especially when their own officers were corrupt.

The entire issue blew out when an officer formerly associated with the Lokayukta spoke to the media about the corruption in the Lokayukta office. The most stinging of his revealations has been the one relating to the running of a protection cartel within the office of the Lokayukta office.

The officer Madhukar Shetty who today is away on study leave says that there was a protection cartel being run in the office of the Lokayukta. He said that some of the officers were extracting protection money and despite the matter being brought to the notice of the higher ups no action was taken.

The incidents that are being pointed out relate to the time when Justice Santhosh Hegde was the Lokayukta of Karnataka. After he submitted the mining report he has been in the line of fire especially from the ruling BJP in Karnataka which has been most affected by this report.

Justice Hegde however says that he had expected such a back lash. On Madhukar Shetty he says that he has a great deal of respect for Madhukar Shetty. He is too honest an officer and the problem with such persons is that they see everyone else as dishonest. He has got this feeling that each one is dishonest. I have had no complaints against him and trust me he is extremely honest. It is sad that his statements are being made use of by those people who have been affected by the mining report.

However I did not expect him to go to this extent. I find that there is a pattern involved in the manner in which the media has reported this. He had said these things during a discussion and the timing of the publication of these statements in the media are very interesting. This was a discussion of four months back. In my mining report I had named some journalists who had got kick backs from some companies who were involved in the mining scandal. This has ticked them off and hence these statements are being used against me. These statements are today being used for a collateral purpose and not journalistic purposes.

I am not saying that the Lokayukta office has been clean. I myself have said that there are black sheep in the department and each time the issue was brought to my notice, I have reacted and acted on it. In fact the mining report itself names 7 Lokayukta police officials and hence the allegation that I was blind to the problem is unfair.

The bigger allegation that Justice Hegde has been facing is about the names of former Chief Ministers, Dharam Singh and S M Krishna. Justice Hegde however defends himself and says that there are two mining reports and in the first one Dharam Singh had been named. The BJP says that I had let him off in the second report. What sense are they speaking? Show me where the second report lets him off. There should be some justification when they accuse me. About the name of S M Krishna, all I would like to ask the BJP is why they did not raise it when the first report came out in the first place. Why all the noise about him is being made today?

Report on illegal mining at 3.30 PM today

The Karnataka Lokayukta has been finally given an appointment and he will now submit the report on illegal mining at 3.30 PM to the Karnataka Chief Secretary. While this is the official information regarding the time to submit the report, there is every possibility that things may change due to various circumstances.

The Lokayukta, Justice Santhosh Hegde who has prepared a report running into several thousand pages has indicted the Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa in it. There is also news that he has sought for the pressing of criminal charges against the Chief Minister and other ministers. The names of former Chief Minister, H D Kumaraswamy and Congress leader Anil Lad also figure in the report as beneficiaries of illegal mining in Karnataka. The report which will be submitted to the Chief Secretary would however not be made public. Justice Hegde has not spoken as yet whether there would be an official media briefing on the report as yet.

Once the report is submitted to the Chief Secretary, the cabinet of Karnataka would take a look at it. B S Yeddyurappa would then take the report and leave forNew Delhitoday evening where he would place it before the high command. Based on the findings and remarks in the report, he high command would decide on Yeddyurappa’s fate. The BJP top leadership after studying the report would meet late in the evening to discuss the same issue.

Yeddyurappa has however sticking to his stand of not stepping down even as the rebels have raised the pitch against him. Although there is a long list of probables to succeed Yeddyurappa, the name of Jagadish Shettar appears to be the strongest as of now. 

 

Road ahead for Justice Patil as Lokayukta

Justice Shivraj Patil. Photo courtesy: Deccan Herald

The high profile post of the Karnataka Lokayukta will be now chaired by Justice Shivraj Patil once Justice Santhosh Hegde retires next month. Justice Patil who belongs to the Lingayat community from Karnataka was recently in the news as he was the appointed as the one man commission to probe the lapses in the sale of 2G spectrum.

Justice Patil will take charge as the Lokayukta of Karnataka in the back drop of the contreversial report on illegal mining which is to be submitted tomorrow by Justice Hegde. When the Lokayukta submits a report to this effect he can either expect the government to act on it or can initiate action by himself based on the findings. However this job would largely depend on Justice Patil now who will take over next month.

Justice Patil who currently is unavailable for comment since he is away at Rajasthan is a well know personality in Karnataka. The Bar considers him to be a humble man who has struggled his way to the top.

Born on January 12 1940 at Maladkai, Raichur district he started his practise at the Gulbarga Bar in the year 1962.  He later shifted to Bangalore in the year 1979 and practised at the Karnataka High Court. Apart from a private practise in which he specialised in both the criminal and civil side, he was also the standing counsel for the Bangalore Development Authority and also the Central Silk Board. In the year 1990 he was elevated as a judge at the Karnataka High Court before being transferred to the High Court of Madras where he was a judge until the year 1998. Later he was made the acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court before taking over as the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court. In the year 2000 he was elevated to the Supreme Court where he served till the year 2005.

After his retirement he took charge as the chief of the National Human Rights Commission. He was also appointed as the one man commission to probe the lapses in the sale of 2G spectrum. During that time Justice Patil who is related very closely to former Home Minister of India, Shivraj Patil had said that when he works he takes orders only from his conscience.

Today he has a big role ahead of him. There is expected pressure as soon as he assumes charge to act on the Lokayukta report. He can independently verify all the facts in the report and act on its basis or he could call for more records and conduct an investigation on his own and then take action. Justice Hegde however said that it would not be right on his part to comment what his successor would do with the report. My job is to submit it, the action will have to follow in due course he said.

Mining report should not be a political tool

Justice Santhosh Hegde who has been in the news ever since portions of his report on illegal mining were leaked said that the report should be looked as a good will gesture to the state and not as a political tool.

Justice Hegde said that this report would be made public on Wednesday since there is still some work remaining on it. I have really not given it a thought as to what the repucussions would be once the report is out. It is up to the government and the other agencies to look into it and act upon it. However the biggest concern that I have is that of the security of my officers who have worked on this report. In the report I do make a mention that my officers should be given security since they have dealt with powerful lobbies and politicians while putting out this report. I am also worried that some of these powerful persons may try and ruin their careers and this is why I am saying that this report should not be taken in the negative sense. It is for the good of the entire state and if acted upon only the state would benefit, he also added.

Defending his decision to speak with the media once the report was leaked he said I thought it was right to do so. The Chief Minister has criticized me for doing so, but I would say that it is my prerogative to speak with the media. He too does the same. Moreover I have not said anything derogatory about anyone in the media.

On the issue of phone tapping he said he has not lodged a complaint with anyone. I am happy that the government wants to take up this matter and get it investigated. It would be good if they do that

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A defenseless Yeddi plans a counter attack

When defenceless, you counter attack. This is the exact strategy that Chief Minister of Karnataka, B S Yeddyurappa has decided to adopt against the Congress which is gunning for his head in the wake of the report on illegal mining being released.

B S Yeddyurappa who is just back from his holiday has a lot of work on hand. At first he was making an issue out of the report being leaked. However now his advisors have told him the best strategy to adopt is to take the Congress head on regarding the issue of phone tapping. Lokayukta Justice Santhosh Hegde had said that his phones and also that of his officers were being tapped. The BJP has denied indulging in any such activity and a majority of them say that it the job of the Congress since the phones lines were being tapped at the behest of the Union Government.

The central leadership which is discussing Yeddyurappa in New Delhi is also discussing the possibility of taking the Congress on, on this particular issue of phone tapping. Ideally the national leadership would like yeddyurappa to be replaced, but the problem is that he is refusing to let go of his chair. They realize that they will need to find a solution to this problem without disturbing the dynamics of the BJP in Karnataka. Ideally the high command wants him to step down on his own, but the Chief Minister is no mood to do so despite the pressure mounting on him.

Yeddyurappa even if forced to step down has his own set of rules and conditions which is not acceptable to a large number of the people in the party. All these things have put the high command in a fix and they have started to think in other lines other than asking him to step down.

At the meeting the leaders of the high command have discussed that it would be virtually impossible to take on the Congress in parliament if Yeddyurappa continues in office in the wake of his name being dragged into so many issues.

The High Command will summon Yeddyurappa to New Delhi once the Lokayukta report is out and speak to him about all these issues. However what Yeddyurappa is likely to convey is that he cannot be changed based  on findings and there are cases in the court and it is the judiciary which should decide. Moreover he would also want the high command to make a bigger issue about the phone tapping incident and take the Congress head on regarding the same.

Yeddyurappa who conducted special prayers at ma temple near his house today will speak to the media later this evening and make his intentions clear. Currently there are a series of meetings that are going on in Bangalore regarding the same issue. The rebels are also meeting separately to chalk out the future and ensure that Yeddyurappa steps down.

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