Yeddys petition to be placed before CJ

Bangalore: A petition by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa challenging the sanction accorded for his prosecution by Governor H R Bhardwaj over alleged land scams will be placed before Chief Justice J S Khehar for referring it to a larger bench.

After hearing submissions of petitioner`s senior counsel and respondents, Justice A S Bopanna of the Karnataka High Court decided to place the matter before the Chief Justice, observing the petition cannot be decided by a single judge as it involved important questions of constitutional law.

Since senior counsel for respondents, P P Rao, sought time till July 25 citing his unavailability, the matter is likely to come up before the court on or after July 25.

Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for Yeddyurappa, in his submission stated that the governor`s order, even of grant of sanction, is "not immune from judicial scrutiny if it is found to be vitiated by the doctrine of bias".

Quoting a Supreme Court judgement in the M.P. Special Police Establishment vs state of M.P, 2004 case, Jethmalani said it has been stated that the governor as a matter of propriety may act in his individual discretion.

Jethamalani said it is no longer the law that where prosecution is sought against a sitting chief minister, the governor compulsorily has to act in his discretion. Whether or not he acts in his discretion is a matter of pure propriety.

The council of ministers can tender its advice if it wants to and that right can neither be defeated nor ignored by the governor. He will be bound to act on the advice unless he concludes it is plainly biased or irrational, he said.

The impugned action, Jethmalani submitted is "invalid" on the above statement of law as the governor had never sought advice of the council of ministers. On the contrary, the council of ministers had made a very reasonable, fair and unbiased advice saying since the matter was being probed by Lokayukta, propriety required governor should await its findings.

Precisely, the same issues of allegations over illegality in denotification of lands were being enquired into by the Commission of Enquiry appointed by government in its November 22, 2010 order by the Karnataka High Court, he said.

Unfortunately the Commission`s work was interrupted and stopped by legal proceedings on a petition by a JDS leader, who had a "strong motivation" not to risk exposure of falsity of their accusations by an eminent judge, he said.

On January 21, the governor granted sanction to prosecute Yeddyurappa and others on a private complaint filed by Sirajin Basha and K N Balraj over alleged involvement of Yeddyurappa and his family in land scams.

Following the sanction,the two lawyers had filed complaints against Yeddyurappa and some of his family members, including son-in-law Sohan Kumar, in a trial court.

However, the high court had on March 29 and April 1 stayed proceedings in the trial court, on a petition filed by Kumar.