Karnataka HC orders action from state govt on KHB land acquisition case

The Karnataka High Court has ordered a notice to the state government for sitting on a damning Lokayukta investigation report into the multi-crore KHB (Karnataka Housing Board) land acquisition scam in which over 500 acres of land purchase is in question.

No action has been initiated in the case even after two years since the Lokayukta police investigation had dug out massive irregularities in the process. The notice was issued after the aggrieved farmers moved the court seeking a directive to the officials concerned to act over the Lokayukta police findings.

The court notices have now given life to one of the high-profile cases that had been put in cold storage, despite two police reports finding massive irregularities – first in October 2014 and second in May 2015. The state government, which had enthusiastically referred the matter for investigation initially, later lost interest, for reasons best known to the government brass.

The case

The State government, based on findings of a high-level committee of the housing ministry, in January 2014, had ordered a Lokayukta probe into the land acquisition process by KHB between 2007-2010 wherein over 500 acres had been acquired for housing projects. The BJP was in power during this time. The acquisition under the scanner pertained to various patches of land that had been acquired from farmers in and around Mysuru in villages such as Kallunaganahalli, Gungralchatra and Yelachenahalli.

Further probe sought

Lokayukta police had initially submitted a report in October 2014 in this regard. However, the farmers filed additional documents and sought a further probe. Then again it had been referred for investigation.

The police had again filed a supplementary report with serious findings, which brought former minister GT Devegowda, his son and brother under the scanner. The report had cited how farmers had been let down by the politician-officer-middlemen nexus in the process of land acquisition. Like most land acquisition scams, here too it had been found that middlemen got into agreements with farmers by paying them Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 18 lakh per acre for sale of land. These lands were then acquired by KHB at Rs. 36.50 lakh per acre. A huge margin was left after paying off the farmers, and this was reportedly cornered by politicians, officials and middlemen. The lands had been identified and acquired without any basic documentation, and it is here that officials played a hugely manipulative role.

The report had named over 50 persons including politicians, officials and some middlemen. However, after finding massive irregularities prima facie, the case hit a roadblock as the police couldn’t proceed further. Even as the report was sent to the government and the Lokayukta police awaited the government’s sanction for prosecution, that had not been given till date.

With no action for more than two years, the aggrieved farmers, Basavaraju K of Gungralchatra, and Ravi L of Anandur, moved the High Court on January 2. The petitioners filed a petition seeking that the High Court issue directives to initiate action against the corrupt, based on the findings of the report.

‘Sanction must’

“The government should accord sanction to prosecute the officials and MLAs involved as prima facie irregularities have been detected. This will pave the way for an FIR. Once the FIR is registered, an investigation will follow under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and other IPC sections. As the matter had been taken up by Lokayukta police before the formation of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the former will investigate the issue if the government accords it sanction, a Lokayukta official told Mirror.

Lokayukta made party

“We had made the Lokayukta a party in the writ of mandamus alongwith the government too, and prayed for a missive to initiate action based on the police report. Notices have been issued to the state and principal secretary, housing. This has brought the case to life,” a source said.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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