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Karnataka govt-Lokayukta clash over land scam probe

Mangalore Today News Network

K’taka govt-Lokayukta clash over land scam probeBangalore, November 26: Lokayukta Santoh Hegde on Friday objected to the state government’s decision to order a judicial probe into land scam allegation faced by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and said he will complete the pending inquiry into a complaint on the same issue.

Hegde, who has written to the government said, "They cannot take away this pending inquiry by me," and rejected government’s contention that the judicial probe covered a wider gamut of issues and the Central Act under which the inquiry has been ordered supersedes the state Lokayukta Act.

"There is a clearcut provision that (only) with prior consent (of Lokayukta)... the government can order probe into an issue which was already before the Lokayukta," Hegde, a former Supreme Court judge, told a news agency.

Hegde’s strong comments came even as former High Court judge B Padmaraj agreed to head the one-man commission of inquiry to probe land scam charges against the Chief Minister.

Yeddyurappa had ordered the probe after facing a barrage of allegations of corruption, nepotism and favouritism from the Opposition over allotment of Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) lands to his daughter and denotifying Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) lands to his son-in-law and sons.

Padmaraj, in a letter, has communicated his acceptance to head the Commission in the public interest, official sources said here today.

He has asked government to provide him with necessary infrastructure for the smooth functioning of the commission.

Hegde said the state government did not have the authority to order a judicial probe when an inquiry was pending before the Lokayukta.

"It (the issue) could not be referred to another inquiry without the prior approval of the Lokayukta," he said.

He alleged that those in the government quoted the law without understanding it and said the Karnataka Lokayukta Act was passed with the assent of the President of India.

Yesterday, Higher Education Minister and senior state BJP leader Dr V S Acharya had said that the Central Act takes precedence over the state act.

Hegde said as per Section 8(2B) of state Lokayukta Act, any pending inquiry before the ombudsman body cannot be taken away from it.

He said Lokayukta had "travelled a lot of distance" on its inquiry into alleged irregularities involving KIADB, one of the issues referred to the judicial probe.

He said JDS spokesman YSV Datta had petitioned Lokayukta on November 18 seeking a probe into land scams and the ombudsman has already taken note of it as it was a fit case for inquiry.

Last year, Hegde had resigned his post fuming that the BJP government was not serious in fighting against corruption and his report on illegal mining did not evoke any action.

In the wake of public outrage and condemnation from Opposition parties, BJP central leadership led by party chief Nitin Gadkari and senior leader L K Advani persuaded Hegde to withdraw his resignation.


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