Bengaluru : In a major relief to former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday set aside then governor H R Bharadwaj’s order of sanction to prosecute him in land denotification cases.
A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice S K Mukherjee and Justice Vineet Saran remitted the matter back to Governor Vajubhai Vala for reconsideration.
Five FIRs were registered based on private complaints by Sirajin Basha and K N Balaraj, and Yeddyurappa was booked under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.
On January 21, 2011, Bharadwaj had granted permission to prosecute Yeddyurappa under the five FIRs registered against him. The bench stated that in the order of sanction, “there is no findings as to why he has accorded sanction in favour of prosecution. There is no discussion as to why he was according sanction when his (chief minister’s) council of ministers had already appointed a one-man committee of Justice B Padmaraj on December 22, 2010, to look into various irregularities in denotification of land.”
The bench stated that though the governor was free to differ from the council of ministers, no reason was mentioned as to why he was not accepting the opinion.
“Such relevant consideration apparently, were absent in the mind of the governor when order granting sanction was passed. Non-consideration of the relevant matters made the order of sanction illegal and resulted in failure of justice,” the bench observed.
The “exercise of power by the governor was not in accordance with well settled principals for sanctioning prosecution,” it further stated.
The bench observed that the complaint lodged against Yeddyurappa was a private one, hence great care, caution and proper application of mind was necessary, particularly having regard to the “uneasy relationship between the then chief minister and the then governor”.
“If a crime was registered, followed by investigation for collection of evidence, both oral and documentary, the governor could have in the hand materials for application of mind. The investigation agencies could have also recorded the statement of the accused as the allegation was of acquisition of assets disproportionate to the known source of income of the accused. With respect, the caution that ought to have been exercised is absent in this case,” the bench stated.
Yeddyurappa has challenged the legality of the order of sanction to prosecute him in the FIRs and allotment of site by the BDA in favour of his son B Y Raghavendra, who was then an MP. The former chief minister has sought for quashing of the order.