JD-S moves court against land deals probe panel

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

BANGALORE - The Janata Dal-Secular has moved the high court for axing the one-man panel set up by Karnataka’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to probe land scams.

The JD-S has appealed to the court to direct the government to allow the Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) to conduct the probe into the scams which allegedly involve Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.

This is the second petition in the high court seeking its intervention to allow the Lok Ayukta to investigate the scandals.

The JD-S had Nov 18 filed a complaint with Lok Ayukta, N. Santosh Hegde, a retired Supreme Court judge, against Yeddyurappa alleging he had favoured his kin with prime land allotment in and around Bangalore.

Four days later, the Yeddyurappa government announced setting up of a judicial enquiry by B. Padmaraja, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court, into major land deals since 1995.

The Padmaraja panel has been asked to probe ‘denotification’ of land (freeing from government control) by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) and allotment of sites by the Bangalore Development Authority.

An upset Hegde told the government that its action was illegal as cases he was investigating cannot be handed over to another probe panel without his consent.

The government modified its orders saying the Padmaraja panel will probe only the cases not being investigated by Lok Ayukta.

However, there is no clarity on whether the modified order excludes the cases mentioned in the Nov 18 JD-S complaint to Hegde.

Hegde has taken the stand that he will not comment on this particular issue as a public interest petition had been filed in the high court seeking that land scams should be investigated Lok Ayukta.

The PIL has been filed by a Bangalore advocate.

The JD-S petition, filed late Monday by party spokesperson Y.S.V. Datta, contended that Yeddyurappa ordered the judicial probe with ‘malafide’ intention as Lok Ayukta had already commenced the investigation.

The high court is likely to fix a date for hearing Wednesday.

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