Karnataka HC Refuses to Quash Probe Against Krishna

Karnataka HC Refuses to Quash Probe Against Krishna
The Karnataka High Court today declined pleas of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and JDS chief H D Kumaraswamy to quash private complaints against them over alleged illegal mining during their Chief Ministerhsip, but gave them partial relief on some charges.

Justice N Ananda passed separate orders on criminal petitions by Krishna and H D Kumaraswamy, who had prayed for quashing the private complaints and proceedings ordered against them by the Lokayukta Special Court.

In a setback to Krishna,the Court ordered that investigation should continue into offences relating to de-reservation of forest area in mineral rich fragile zones.

Krishna, Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004, however got some relief as the court quashed the charges of mismanagement of state owned Mysore Minerals Limited by him on the ground "it does not constitute any cognisable offence and do not call for investigation".

Kumaraswamy, who headed the JDS-BJP coalition, got major relief when the court upheld his plea to quash Rs 150 crore bribery charges levelled against him in the complaint and his order for renewing the mining licence of Jentakal Mining firm.

But the court said Kumaraswamy has to face a probe into ordering renewal of mining licence of Sree Sai Venkateshwara mining company when he was Chief Minister from 2006 to 2007.

In the wake of these orders, Lokayukta police will now continue investigations against Krishna and Kumaraswamy and file its report to the Lokayukta court. In December, the High court had granted stay on the FIRs against them.

Social activist T J Abraham had filed a private complaint against Krishna, Kumaraswamy and another former Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, seeking action against them for allegedly facilitating illegal mining.

Singh, however last week withdrew his petition from the High Court, seeking quashing of the proceedings against him in the wake a PIL pending against him on the same issue.

"The petition is accepted in part. The impugned order of reference is modified", Justice Ananda said in his order on both the petitions of Krishna and Kumaraswamy.

"I think my lawyers will look into the details of the judgement and they will take appropriate action", Krishna who was here holding a meeting with UAE delegation told reporters.

He evaded a reply to a query on how he would react if the opposition were to demand his resignation, saying "we will cross it when such a demand is made".

Krishna secured a major relief when the court refused to take cognisance of various allegations against him in the complaint and ordered investigation to continue into a Cabinet decision on de-reserving of forest area.

The decision of the cabinet led by Krishna in de-reserving forest for mining had reached the Karnataka High Court in 2003 as an advocate had filed a PIL challenging it.

A division bench, headed by then Chief Justice N K Jain had dismissed the PIL on July 18, 2004 on the ground that there was no public interest involved in the petition.

The court had then held that the petitioner has not been able to show the government has no power to issue such notification.

The Krishna government had then filed objections stating that the government had not changed anything, except throwing the lease open to private parties instead of a government undertaking or Central government undertaking, but it can only be subject to prior approval by the Central government.

Uday Lalit, counsel for Krishna had argued that the Cabinet decision was a collective one taken by 34 ministers and an individual cannot be held responsible for it.

Lalit also had submitted that there was a minister in charge of Forest Department and also for Mines and Geology Department during Krishna government, which was not the case with successive governments.
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