Ombudsman seeks Yeddyurappa’s response to land scam

Saturday, November 27, 2010

BANGALORE - Karnataka Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N.Santosh Hegde Saturday said that there appears to be a prima facie case in allegations of improper land deals against Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa and has sought his response.

Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, told reporters here that he has issued notice to Yeddyurappa to respond to allegations by the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) about ‘denotifying’ (freeing from government control) lands.

He also ticked off a few ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators’ threat to hold demonstrations against him and demands for his apology to the chief minister.

Yeddyurappa is accused of favouring his kin with prime land and ‘denotifying’ large tracts of land which were bought at throwaway prices by people who invested money in his sons’ business ventures.

“We found a prima facie case in the complaint. We have issued a notice to the chief minister on November 21,” Hegde said.

Yeddyurappa is yet to respond to Hegde’s notice.

The JD-S had Nov 18 filed complaint running into nearly 600 pages with the ombudsman giving details of lands freed from government control to benefit Yeddyurappa’s family members and their business associates or people investing in their ventures.

Earlier four ruling BJP law makers, S. R. Vishwanath, Satish Reddy, Ramappa Lamani and Suresh Gowda, threatened to hold a ‘dharna’ (sit-in) protest against Hegde for trying to portray Yeddyurappa guilty without a trial.

They demanded an apology from Hedge.

Hegde dismissed their threat saying: “They are free to do what they want; I will do what is required of me.”

The ombudsman, who had resigned in June over Yeddyurappa government’s handling of illegal iron ore mining issue and took it back, said he wished he had not done so.

“I would not have been in a dilemma that I am in today,” he said. However he had no intention of quitting now, he added.

Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, who Hegde considers to be ‘father figure to me’, had persuaded him to continue in office. Hegde’s father late K. S. Hegde was vice president of BJP.

Hegde has been upset with the government for ordering a judicial probe into land scam when he was already investigating it.

Earlier Saturday he had taken strong exception to the government seeking information on the status of various probes he was conducting.

“They have raised this issue as I am investigating allegations against the chief minister,” he told reporters here.

Hegde lashed out the government, saying it had not acted on his report on illegal mining and other reports on corruption.

“The government has not acted on the report on illegal mining. No action has been taken against people involved in illegal mining,” he said.

Late Friday the government sought information from Hegde on the status of various probes. The government action came within hours of Hegde strongly criticising it for ordering a judicial probe into various land deals in the last 15 years.

An angry Hegde said Friday that ordering another probe when he was investigating the case violated laws.

He also told the government to wind up the Lok Ayukta if it did not have trust in it.

The Yeddyurappa government has appointed retired Karnataka High Court judge B. Padmaraj to probe records of the past 15 years on allotment of residential sites in Bangalore and freeing of land from government control by various agencies.

Yeddyurappa decided on the probe following allegations that he favoured his kin with prime land and freed government land to benefit people who invested money in his sons’ business ventures.

Hegde asserted Friday that he would not stop his investigation into allegations against Yeddyurappa.

“They (the government) may accept the report which suits them,” he said Saturday.

Hegde hopes to complete the investigation before his term of five years ends in eight months while the Padmaraj panel has been given a year’s time to submit its report.

Filed under: Politics

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