Top Karnataka officers face contempt to court notice

March 25th, 2008 - 11:47 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday issued notices to top Karnataka government officials on a contempt to court plea against them for their alleged failure to abide by the court’s earlier order to execute the Bangalore-Mysore corridor project. These top officials include the state’s chief secretary, the additional chief secretary of the Public Works Department, the principal secretary of the revenue department and the secretary to the urban development.

A bench of Justices Arjit Pasayat, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam issued the notice, and said the officials are to file their replies on contempt application.

The bench, however, exempted the officials from appearing in person before the court. It sought the officers’ replies within six weeks and adjourned the hearing to the second week of August.

Project contractor Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprise Limited (NICE) filed the petition, alleging that successive state governments had been dilly-dallying in expeditiously executing the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMICP) in defiance of the apex court’s April 20, 2006, direction.

The court ignored the Karnataka government counsel Sanjay Hegde’s plea that the state is under central rule and there is no elected government to take a decision. A decision could be taken only after an elected government takes over, he added, while pleading for adjournment of the case.

Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for project contractor NICE, countered Hegde’s arguments and said that the last government headed by H.D. Kumaraswamy had deliberately delayed the execution of the project.

Contempt notices were also issued to the special deputy commissioner of the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board, coordinator of the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project and member secretary of the planning authority of the project.

These officials are “collectively and individually guilty of having committed wilful disobedience of this court order by diverse acts attributable to them, individually and collectively, and are therefore guilty of contempt of court and liable to be proceeded against and punished in accordance with law”, said the petition of NICE.

Karnataka had been dithering on implementing the project and also said that a new global tender had been initiated Sep 17, 2007.

It alleged that the contractor was not interested in implementing the project, and despite the direction of the apex court it was lagging behind in execution.

The project envisages construction of a highway between Bangalore and Mysore with additional townships developed along the corridor as well as infrastructure and peripheral roads.

According to the April 1997 framework agreement (FWA) between the Karnataka government and the developers, NICE had the saleable right for 5,937.3 acres land worth Rs.312.50 billion in and around five townships.

On the other hand, the cost to construct the expressway, peripheral road and link road would be Rs.30 billion. The company was given the right to collect toll tax for 30 years, which would be in billion of rupees, said the application filed by Karnataka.

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