Governor urged not to sanction prosecution of BSY

Bangalore: Signalling escalation of friction between the BJP government and Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, the State Cabinet on Wednesday asked him not to permit prosecution of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on alleged land scams, saying that such a move was nothing short of a “farce and colourable exercise” on his part.

“Your Excellency’s action of consideration of the request for sanction will not inspire confidence that the decision would be judicious, fair and bonafide,” the Cabinet said in a strongly-worded resolution passed at an emergent meeting.

The Cabinet meeting, second since Tuesday, came a day after Mr. Bhardwaj said he was considering the petition filed by a lawyers forum seeking sanction for prosecution of Mr. Yeddyurappa as also Home Minister R. Ashoka on alleged scams.

Asserting that neither any investigating agency nor Commission of Inquiry had indicted the Chief Minister or the Home Minister, the resolution said the “intended exercise” of the power by the Governor to process the request for sanction “is wholly without jurisdiction”.

Briefing reporters, Law Minister Suresh Kumar said the resolution will be sent to Mr. Bhardwaj, who has set the January 20 deadline for the government to submit to him 93 files pertaining to alleged scams relating to denotification and allotment of prime lands in Karnataka.

The Cabinet, however, did not discuss the issue of seeking recall of Mr. Bhardwaj, who, since assuming the gubernatorial office, has lost no opportunity to put the BJP government in the dock regularly on many issues, infuriating the saffron party, which has dubbed him a “Congress agent.” Mr. Bhardwaj said on Tuesday he was considering the petition from “all angles” but had termed the issue as “ticklish“.

Mr. Kumar said when Mr. Yeddyurappa called on the Governor on December 31, Mr. Bhardwaj had indicated that he will accord sanction to prosecute the Chief Minister immediately after the Republic Day.

Also, delegations led by certain Congress and JD(S) leaders who met Bhardwaj were also told in no uncertain terms about the said intentions, Mr. Kumar said.

The resolution contended that the entire matter was sub—judice as the allegations were already being probed by anti—corruption watchdog, Lokayukta, as also a Commission of Inquiry headed by retired High Court judge B Padmaraj, appointed by the BJP government after the charges surfaced.

The Commission is looking into dealings including de-notification or acquisition of lands from 1995 to November 2010 that covers the tenures of S.M. Krishna as Chief Minister, N Dharam Singh (both Congress), H.D. Kumaraswamy (JDS—BJP coalition) and Mr. Yeddyurappa.

“If the Governor grants sanction to prosecute the Chief Minister and the Home Minister, it would be the third agency to look into the same matter," Mr. Kumar said.

The relevant powers to grant sanction either under the CrPc or the Prevention of Corruption Act can be invoked only after the probe into a complaint had been completed and the investigating agency was satisfied that sufficient evidence was available, the resolution said.

On January 3, the Principal Secretary to the Governor wrote to the Chief Secretary S. V. Ranganath asking for certain files and certified documents numbering about 93.

Shortly after the Governor’s remarks on the issue of prosecution, Mr. Yeddyurappa visited Delhi on Tuesday and held consultations with party central leaders, including Arun Jaitley, also a lawyer, on how to counter Mr. Bhardwaj’s move.

The Governor and BJP have engaged in public spat on a regular basis, with the ruling party accusing him of trying to destabilise the first ever saffron party government in the South.

In the latest attack on the BJP government, Mr. Bhardwaj had said he was ready to provide a list of corrupt ministers to anyone who approached him.