The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted protection from arrest to Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and state minister Murugesh Nirani in connection with a land allocation case, in which they had failed to grant 26 acres of land to private investor M. Alam Pasha in 2011.
A bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian issued a notice to Pasha on two separate petitions filed by Yeddyurappa and Nirani.
“Issued notice. There shall be stay on arrest in the meantime,” the top court said in its order.
The petitioners were represented by a battery of senior lawyers: Mukul Rohatgi, K.V. Vishwanathan and Sajan Povayya. Pasha had accused Yediyurappa, Nirani and others of allegedly forging documents to establish the withdrawal of approval of 26 acres of land to him in the Devanahalli Industrial Area in Bengaluru Rural in 2011.
Rohatgi pointed out before the bench that the earlier complaint was quashed by the high court, which was restored later, and proceedings cannot be initiated against his client on the same complaint.
He urged the top court to stay the proceedings initiated in the Bengaluru court. During the hearing, the bench told the petitioner’s counsel that “you are the Chief Minister, who will issue warrant against you”.
The bench observed that against a Chief Minister, the court usually issues letter of request, and not warrant.
Yediyuruppa argued that the high court had erroneously allowed the petition by the complainant under Section 482 of the CrPC and set aside the well-reasoned order passed by a special judge in August 2016.
“The high court erroneously set aside the aforesaid order only on the ground that the petitioner had demitted the office which had allegedly been abused by him at the time of commission of alleged offence and therefore no sanction was necessary to be obtained,” said the CM’s plea in the top court.
Yediyuruppa and Nirani, now the mining minister, had moved the top court challenging the January 5 high court order, which allowed criminal proceedings against them. The high court had noted that Pasha’s earlier complaint that was quashed for want of sanction would not be a bar to maintain the instant complaint.
Pasha had moved the high court challenging the special judge’s order of August 26, 2016. The high court said that it was contrary to the well-established principle of law that sanction for prosecution of the public servants was not necessary after they demit the office or retire from service. The court had restored a fresh criminal complaint filed against them in the Bengaluru court.
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