It’s season of petitions in Karnataka (Letter from Karnataka)By V.S. Karnic, IANS
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
BANGALORE - Once hailed as a city of pensioners, this Karnataka capital has almost become a city of petitioners. Keeping track of pleas, both filed and planned, has become a major talking point.
Five complaints have been filed by two lawyers in two days in a city court against Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa over allegedly illegal land deals.
This was preceded by a petition by them to Governor H.R. Bhardwaj seeking his permission to file criminal cases against Yeddyurappa.
One petition has been filed by an advocate in the Karnataka High Court against the government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party over the Jan 21 state-wide ‘bandh’ (shutdown) organised to protest Bhardwaj entertaining the petition of the two lawyers.
Yet another petition has been filed by another lawyer seeking a probe into land deals during the rule of four former chief ministers - H.D. Deve Gowda, S.M. Krishna, N. Dharam Singh and H.D. Kumaraswamy.
A notable feature of most of these petitions, apart from their legal lineage, is their volume.
The two advocates, Sirajin Basha and K.N. Balaraj, had filed an over 1,700-page document to Bhardwaj, seeking permission to prosecute Yeddyurappa.
The complaints they filed against Yeddyurappa Saturday and Monday were less argumentative - only about 100 pages or so.
But the advocate duo have not finished.
Fearing Yeddyurappa might move high court to stay Bhardwaj’s sanction, Basha and Balaraj filed a ‘caveat’ in the high court late Friday itself, within hours of the governor giving permission to haul the chief minister before courts.
A ‘caveat’ is a petition seeking that the party which has filed it be heard before a decision by a court.
The petition for a probe into land deals during the four former chief ministers is, however, large again - over 650 pages.
This has been filed with a judicial commission set up by Yeddyurappa precisely for that purpose - to investigate land allotment and land denotification from 1995 to November 2010, a period that covers not only these four former chief ministers but the first 30 months of Yeddyurappa’s rule too.
Yeddyurappa became chief minister in May 2008.
The judicial commission is headed by B. Padmaraj, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court.
A petition has already been filed against the setting up of the Padmaraj commission as allegations against Yeddyurappa were already being investigated by the state’s Lokayukta (ombudsman).
The high court has directed the Padmaraj commission not to record any evidence till it decides whether this commission or the Lokayukta will conduct the probe.
Now, Yeddyurappa has threatened a defamation case against Bhardwaj for likening him and his cabinet to a ‘thief who chides the policeman’.
Yeddyurappa is also waiting for a nod from his party’s central leaders on whether to petition the high court challenging Bhardwaj’s sanction to prosecute him.
Then, he may also a file a petition challenging the filing of complaints by the two advocates. Or if the city court issues notice to him on the advocate duo’s petition, he may petition the high court against the notice.
Even if BJP central leaders advise Yeddyurappa against petitioning the high court on Bhardwaj’s sanction, there is no stopping others accused in the complaints. One complaint names six as accused and another names 11.
Yeddyurappa, his two sons B.Y. Vijeyendra and B.Y. Raghavendra, who is a BJP Lok Sabha member and son-in-law R.N. Sohan Kumar, figure in all the five complaints filed so far.
While one awaits further moves by Yeddyurappa and his family, the Janata Dal-Secular has threatened to petition the Supreme Court against the state government and the BJP for contempt of court for organising the Jan 21 bandh.
This is because the Supreme Court had frowned upon political parties organising ‘bandhs’.
Perhaps the situation calls for one more application - a petition to stop petitions.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)