BENGALURU: The High Court on Monday stayed the show-cause notice issued by the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) to IPS officer Sushant Mahapatra, Chairman, Karnataka State Police Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (KSPHDCL).
Hearing the petition filed by Mahapatra, Justice Raghvendra Chauhan also issued notice to chief secretary and secretary of DPAR.
DPAR had issued a notice to Mahapatra on July 20 for filing a complaint with the Lokayukta on the alleged scam in KSPHDCL and speaking to the media on the matter, and sought an explanation from him within two weeks. Advocate Arun Shyam, representing Mahapatra, contended that DPAR’s action was biased, arbitrary, illegal, without jurisdiction as well as contrary to law.
“The prima facie materials available on record show that there are certain illegalities and irregularities which may involve around `2,000 crore. After exhausting all remedies and left with no option, I reported the illegalities and irregularities to the Lokayukta which is purely with bona fide intentions and in public interest and also in the interest of the institution. Such a report submitted to the authorities, Government and the Lokayukta is in accordance with law and cannot be found fault with by the respondent or any other authorities,” Mahapatra claimed.
He said under Article 311 of the Constitution, it is either the disciplinary or the appointing authority who can issue a show-cause notice and can consider the cause shown, before making the final order. As regards to the allegation about speaking to media without authorisation, he said, “Since the media insisted that I speak on the report which is a public document and in public domain, I was constrained to answer the queries.”
Mahapatra had sought a Lokayukta investigation into alleged irregularities at the police housing corporation between 2012 and 2014. He has named M N Reddi, then Bengaluru City Police Commissioner, and Praveen Sood, then Additional Director-General of Police, Karnataka State Reserve Police, in his complaint. They were managing directors of the corporation.
The complaint was filed on July 3 and later he provided additional information to the anti-corruption agency. His letter states that the police top brass hid huge financial transactions from the Cabinet with the intention of “looting” the government.
KAT: Notice to State, Centre
The High Court issued notice to the state and central governments with regard to the appointment of G Shanthappa as a judicial member of the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT).
Hearing two public interest litigations filed by advocates, including one A Vishwanath Bhat, a division bench of acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice B V Nagarathna issued the notice.
On July 21, Shanthappa was appointed as judicial member of KAT. During the hearing, Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar argued that there was no bar on Shanthappa’s appointment to KAT as he had served two terms as member of the Central Administrative Tribunal and his appointment to KAT was a fresh one. Referring to the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, the petitioners contended a member shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office extendable by one more term of five years.
‘Conduct Survey Near Daria Daulat’
The High Court directed the Deputy Commissioner of Mandya, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and chief officer, Town Municipal Council in Srirangapatna, to conduct a survey to find out whether a building has been built within the prohibited area or not and submit a report within two weeks.
A division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee gave the direction while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Rajanikanth and two others. The petitioners claimed that one Lakshmidevamma had constructed a building within 60 metres of Daria Daulat palace in Srirangapatna. It is against the Ancient Monuments and Remains Act which prohibits any building within 100 mt of any monument, they said.
PIL Against Lifetime Tax on Non-Karnataka Vehicles Heard
A public interest litigation was filed in the High Court, challenging the imposition of life tax on non-Karnataka vehicles if they are used for more than 30 days.
Hearing the PIL put up by six persons from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, the division bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee on Monday, directed Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar to get instructions on the matter.
The petitioners contended that imposing a life tax on non-Karnataka vehicles would become a hindrance to them, as they visit and stay in Karnataka where their children are settled. The authorities are seizing their vehicles under the new amendments, they said
Amendment to section 3 of Karnataka Motor Vehicles Taxation Act, 2014 makes it mandatory for owners of non-Karnataka vehicles to pay a lifetime tax in the state if the vehicle is being used continuously for more than 30 days.