Lokayukta serves notice to Yeddyurappa on land denotification

Lokayukta Santosh Hegde has issued a notice to Yeddyurappa, seeking his views on a JDS complaint on denotification of lands, saying there is a prima facie case.

Lokayukta Santosh Hegde has issued a
notice to Yeddyurappa, seeking his views on a JDS complaint on
denotification of lands, saying there is a prima facie case.

The anti-corruption watchdog`s action has come as a
further embarrassment to Yeddyurappa, who only recently
survived a threat to his position.

JDS, which has been gunning for Yeddyurappa`s removal,
had filed the complaint on November 18 seeking probe into
denotification of land, including some favouring his family
members, which had been notified by Bangalore Development
Authority (BDA).

Hegde, who has been at loggerheads with the
Yeddyurappa government accusing it of deciding "unilaterally"
to order a judicial probe into alleged land scams when the
issue was pending before the Lokayukta, rejected allegations
of being biased against ruling BJP and favouring some
political parties.

Hegde said in all 14 cases had been filed as on date
before Lokayukta against the chief minister, including those
submitted very recently. "Eight have been closed without even
issuing a notice to chief minister and in the remaining 6
cases, in one case pertaining to denotification of land,
notice has been issued."

Hegde, who is also peeved with the government for
seeking a status report on various cases entrusted to
Lokayukta after he questioned the manner in which a judicial
probe was ordered overlooking him, retorted "when there are 39
cases before me - between 2000 to 2010 - why does the
government want to know the status of investigation only in
seven cases?

"I have no doubt that it is with a view to project me
as a pro-JDS or a pro-Congress person. I flatly deny it. I
have no such prejudices."

Hegde said in response to a letter faxed to him by the
government seeking status of investigation,he has sent a reply
that all these cases are ready for investigation and the
probe would be conducted.

Hegde attributed the delay in commencing the probe to
lack of documents and pendency of some cases before the High
Court.

On the seven cases on which government had sought a
status report, he said "all necessary measures have been
taken...public notices have been given and investigation is
already on in these cases."

Expressing displeasure over motives attributed to him
by a section of a political party, which he did not name, he
said he harboured no prejudice against any party and
considered all on equal standing.

"I want to explain my stand to a section of political
party attributing malice and prejudice to me. I presume I am
taking up investigation against the Chief Minister and members
of his cabinet in mortal hurry, all because of collateral
reasons. I want to tell them I have no such malice against any
political party."

Maintaining that he has been impartial in discharging
his duties, Hegde said, "I do not have any hatred against BJP
or Chief Minister. If I had any hatred, I would not have
closed eight cases without even issuing notices."

On government ordering a judicial probe into the
alleged land scams when the matter is pending before the
Lokayukta, Hegde said, "trying to take away any legitimate
investigation without even discussing it is an insult to the
institution. It is not at all proper.

"It is an affront to an organisation which is created
under a statute. I am not prepared to accept this kind of
action from the government or any opposition party."

Earlier the Lokayukta came under attack from four BJP
MLAs for being critical of the Yeddyurappa government.

S R Vishwanath, Satish Reddy, Ramappa Lamani and
Suresh Gowda, addressing a press conference, took exception to
certain remarks made by Hegde against Yeddyurappa which they
termed "pronouncing judgement before finding the guilt of a
person".

Vishwanath and Gowda went to the extent of demanding
that Hegde tender an apology to the Chief Minister, failing
which they would stage a dharna in front of Lokayukta office.

Reacting sharply to the MLAs criticism, Hegde said
"they are free to do whatever they want. I will do what is
required of me as Lokayukta."

Hegde had also questioned the inaction by the
government on various reports submitted to it, including on
illegal mining.

Asked if he would quit in the wake of fresh
developments, Hegde said he regretted his earlier decision to
withdraw his resignation bowing to pressures from BJP top
leaders, including L K Advani.

"If I had done that (resignation), I would not have
been in a dilemma that I am in today", he said, but declared
he would not be resigning again.

Hegde had resigned in June this year after expressing
strong displeasure over the government not doing enough to
tackle corruption, but rpt retraced rpt his step after
relenting to pressure from Advani.

Hegde said apart from the 14 complaints received
against Yeddyurappa, "I received three complaints yesterday
and today. I have asked my officers to scrutinise them."

Sharing details about four out of seven cases between
September and 0ctober 2008 and in which investigation is being
conducted, he said one pertained to acquisition of land by a
previous government for building Hassan Ring Road and
allegedly making money in the process.

The second, also related to acquisition of land in
Nandagudi in Hoskote taluk for establishing an SEZ by JDS
leader H D Kumaraswamy "who made money in the deal", he said.

The other case involved land earmarked for car parking
"given to businessman Uday Garudachar by former Chief Minister
S M Krishna to establish Garuda Mall".

The fourth involved land meant to construct quarters
for economically weaker sections in Ejipura area in Bangalore
"being given to the same businessman for building another mall
and allotting him the remaining land also to construct the
quarters", he said.

PTI

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