HC faults Lokayukta court in Yeddyurappa case

Bangalore: Karnataka High Court on Monday observed the Lokayukta Court did not examine witnesses before taking cognisance of a private complaint against former CM BS Yeddyurappa relating to alleged land scams.

When a special procedure is prescribed (to be tried under the Prevention of Corruption Act), it "requires the Magistrate not only to examine the complainant but also all witnesses in the case. In this case, it was not done," the court noted during the hearing on a petition by Yeddyurappa seeking quashing of two corruption cases against him.

Observing that merely hearing the complainant, taking cognisance and issuing summons, places the accused at a disadvantage, there being no investigation, Justice Anand Byrareddy sought a clarification on this from the counsel for the respondent Sirajin Basha, on whose complaint the cases have been filed.

"In a serious case like this when you are putting down the Head of the State, should not the court proceed with more caution? Should not there be second look on all this?" Justice Byrareddy asked.

Yeddyurappa was arrested in October in two other cases filed on the basis of the private complaint and released on bail. He has been accused of illegal land denotifications.

As arguments remained inconclusive today, the Judge observed that a number of matters of public importance were pending before the court because of this case and directed the respective counsels to file their arguments in written form and adjourned the hearing to January 5.

The court sought to know the "direct link between the first accused (Yeddyurappa), the denotification of land and the money received. "Who are the benamidars or the henchmen" who received the money?"

To this counsel Nitin said "it is not merely denotifiation but denotification as a means of abuse of office. It is the timing of the payment and the one who receives it, which is the clinching evidence".

He further submitted cognisance was taken by Lokayukta Court judge "with application of mind, he went through the complaint for over a month before cognisance was taken".

Senior counsel for Yedyurappa, Jayakumar S Patil argued that for the allegations levelled in the complaints "there is not a semblance of material evidence and no prima facie case is made out".

"It was on these cases that the petitioner was issued summons. No enquiry was conducted. It is an abuse of process of the court and intentional harassment", he submitted.