‘Governor to act swiftly if Yeddyurappa found guilty’ (Lead)

July 27th, 2011 - 12:01 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, July 26 (IANS) Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj would act swiftly if Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa is found guilty by the Lokayukta probe into the multi-crore mining scam in the state, a source close to Raj Bhavan said Tuesday.

“If the Lokayukta (Justice N. Santosh Hegde) finds the chief minister directly involved in the mining scam and recommends his prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act as a public servant, the governor will direct the latter (Yeddyurappa) to step down pending an inquiry,” the source, declining to be named, told IANS.

Discounting the possibility of president’s rule being recommended in the state again, the source said the governor is of the view that after Yeddyurappa steps down, it would be up to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to elect a new leader to form a new government for the remaining term of 22 months of the present legislative assembly.

“The present situation is quite different from the previous two occasions when the governor had recommended president’s rule in the state on the basis of the dramatic political developments that took place in October 2010 and May 2011 after 16 rebel lawmakers, including 11 BJP legislators and five Independents, revolted against Yeddyurappa and subsequently after the Supreme Court revoked their disqualification by the assembly speaker (K.G. Bopaiah),” the source recalled.

Lokayukta registrar Moosa Kunhi Nayar is scheduled to submit the voluminous final report on the illegal mining activities in the state to Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath Wednesday.

“Once the report is made public, the governor can ask the ombudsman to send him a copy immediately. If the report holds the chief minister guilty and recommends action against him even though the state government has three months to accept or reject it as per the Lokayutka Act, the governor will act swiftly,” the source said.

As head of the state and the only constitutional authority to take action against the chief minister, the governor is competent to act on the recommendation of the Lokayukta for further investigation into Yeddyurappa’s complicity in the mining scam.

“Though the state government has three months to accept or reject the report and its recommendations as per the Lokayukta Act, the governor need not wait till then.

“As the constitutional head of the state, the governor is bound to send a detailed report to the president (Pratibha Patil) with his recommendations, enclosing a copy of the report,” the source asserted.

As per the Lokayukta Act, the governor is empowered to take action against only the chief minister, while the latter can order prosecution of cabinet ministers and officials found guilty in the probe report.

In this context, the source cited the case of former state excise minister Katta Subramanya Naidu, who resigned Dec 3, 2010, after the Lokayukta found him directly involved in the multi-crore land scam and against whom the governor sanctioned prosecution by the ombudsman’s police.

“The governor intends to get a copy of the report from the Lokayukta soon after it is submitted to the state government Wednesday and study it along with the recommendations to act on the same day. He is keen to send his report to the president within 24 hours, as he is alarmed over the magnitude of the corruption and illegalities involved in the mining scam with the connivance of the officials,” the source noted.

Hegde in an interview to IANS said there was “an element of criminality on the part of the chief minister as he heads the mining department and is responsible for all acts of omission and commission in it”.

The report has found that illegal mining caused a Rs.1,827 crore loss to the exchequer over the past 14 months.

If the chief minister himself is found to be a party to the loot of the state’s rich mineral wealth, he will have to face action as the department of mines comes directly under him.

Though the ombudsman’s first report was submitted Dec 18, 2008, Bhardwaj, who assumed office on June 30, 2009, had been upset that the state government failed to act up on its recommendations effectively and prevent continuation of illegal mining and export of iron ore since then.

“The governor has gone through the Lokayukta’s first report, including the slew of recommendations made to check illegal mining, action to be taken against several officials who connived with the mining mafia in plundering the iron ore and put in place a mechanism to regulate the mining sector in the state. He shares the ombudsman’s concern that the government failed to take punitive action against the guilty officers,” the source added.

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