BENGALURU: In a setback to the Legislative Assembly, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed it not to precipitate the matter with regard to the breach of privilege motion initiated against the Lokayukta registrar. Justice A S Bopanna passed the interim order after hearing the petition filed by the Lokayukta and the registrar challenging the breach of privilege motion.
“The matter requires examination, hence not to precipitate the matter further,” the judge told the respondents — the Assembly Speaker, chairman of the House Privileges Committee, chairman of the House Committee on papers laid on the table, Principal Secretary to the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms and Assembly secretary (in-charge) — while ordering notices to them.
The petitioners, the Lokayukta and the registrar, have challenged a notice dated December 26, 2017 issued by the Assembly Secretary based on the approval of the Speaker, calling upon the Registrar to offer an explanation regarding the privilege motion initiated against him. They also challenged the communication dated October 10, 2017 from the Committee on Papers Laid on the Table to the Speaker, recommending initiation of privilege motion against the Registrar, without considering the communication dated September 5, 2017 written by Registrar to the Assembly secretary. On the instructions of the Lokayukta, the registrar had sought time to examine the powers of the Committee to seek his personal appearance before it and the legal requirement as per provisions of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act.
The provocation for the notice is that the Lokayukta registrar, an in-service judicial officer in the cadre of district and sessions judge, did not appear before the House Committee on Papers Laid on the Table and place the annual performance report of the institution and the audited report regarding utilisation of state’s grants.Senior counsel Uday Holla, representing the Lokayukta and the registrar, argued that the Lokayukta has to submit an annual report and audit report to the Governor, and not to the House Committee, as per Section 12(6) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act. The governor may seek clarifications, if any, from the Lokayukta and place them before both Houses of the legislature under Section 12(7) of the Act, he argued.
Holla further argued that the notice to the registrar is without authority of law. The respondents are claiming that the Lokayukta is under government control as it is utilising state’s grants. Calling upon the registrar to appear in person and submit an explanation, would amount to impeding the independence and autonomy of the Lokayukta institution. Without considering this, a breach of privilege motion was initiated against the registrar, he argued.
‘No role of IAS officers’
Reacting to the report ‘Karnataka Lokayukta submits reports to Governor, not house panel’ published in TNIE on January 16, the Lokayukta registrar has clarified that the writ petition was filed challenging the action of the two House Committees and the Speaker. “There is no grievance made against any IAS officer or group of IAS officers, or any other, other than mentioned in the writ petition, the registrar said.