BENGALURU: Even as L K Advani struggles to come to terms with the rise of Narendra Modi in both BJP and national politics, another of his detractors, B S Yeddyurappa, is showing signs of re-emergence, much to his discomfort.
It was Advani, who in 2010, laid the foundation for Yeddyurappa’s fall by ensuring the continuation of Justice Santosh Hedge in the Lokayukta post. Hedge had, in fact, resigned accusing Yeddyurappa government of not extending its support to him in his inquiry into the illegal mining issue in Ballari.
But things have changed now. And, the last three verdicts of the Karnataka High Court quashing FIRs and setting aside sanction for prosecution couldn’t have come at a better time for former Chief Minister and BJP national vice-president Yeddyurappa, who is once again nursing ambitions to gain control of BJP in the state and eventually return to the CM's chair.
The three verdicts delivered over the last 42 days, mostly cleared the Lingayat strongman of all allegations related to de-notification of lands. He was in the dock for returning land acquired by the BDA to private parties, allegedly in violation of the law. CBI, however, is probing a case related to illegal mining of iron ore.
The HC judgments come at a time when the state BJP is getting ready to elect its new president, who will lead the party in 2018 assembly elections. The former CM wants to regain his political turf in the state after Prime Minister Modi kept him out of his ministry citing corruption charges against him. But now, he is a strong contender for the party’s top job in the state.
Reacting to the outcome of the legal battle, a beaming Yeddyurappa said that he had full faith in the judiciary and was confident of emerging victorious. In the latest order earlier this week, the High Court quashed all 15 FIRs registered by the Karnataka Lokayukta Police against the former Chief Minister.
The FIRs were filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act. For the beleaguered BJP leader, the verdict marks three victories in 42 days.
Justice Rathnakala pronounced Tuesday’s order quashing all 15 FIRs. Justice Rathnakala says: “...CAG Report cannot be used as a foundation to build up a criminal case and cannot be made a part of investigation.....”
She further said that the matter having gone out of the premises of Lokayukta Act, allowing the investigation to continue on these defective FIRs is by itself abuse of process of law. It is not required to go further to the merit of the allegations made against Yeddyurappa or the defence offered by him to the said allegation.
However, it is made clear that CAG report shall not be used against Yeddyurappa if any action is contemplated against him in future. All the contentions are kept open, she said. Therefore, the verdict also barred the Lokayukta police from registering any FIRs against Yeddyurappa in the other 24 instances of illegal de-notification documented in the CAG report.
The Supreme Court had recently directed the High Court to expedite the hearing of Yeddyurappa’s petitions, in response to a SLP filed by the Lokayukta seeking vacation of a stay in three cases granted by the High Court. During the arguments, Special Public Prosecutor Venkatesh P Dalwai raised serious objections to the arguments of Assistant Solicitor General (ASG), representing the CAG that the report was meant only for Parliament or the state assembly.
So, What Now?
Now, no cases remain against Yeddyurappa, except the one before the CBI court related to illegal mining. Yeddyurappa’s career can once again be on the ascendant if he is cleared of the taint.
As per CID report, Yeddyurappa was named in 40 cases of denotification. In six other cases, he was named with other politicians, such as JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy and state energy minister DK Shiva Kumar. All these 46 cases were reported between 2008-2014.
November 24, 2015: Karnataka High Court set aside the sanction accorded by the then Governor H R Bhardwaj to prosecute Yeddyurappa in five cases relating to illegal denotification of land in Bengaluru.
December 18, 2015 : The High Court once again quashed proceedings against Yeddyurappa and State Energy Minister D K Shivakumar in connection with Benniganahalli illegal denotification case.
January 6, 2016 : The Karnataka High Court quashed proceedings against Yeddyurappa in relation to 15 FIRs registered by Lokayukta police over denotification of BDA-acquired lands in Bilekahalli and Halagavaderahalli.