BSY sits on Lokayukta first report on illegal mining

BSY sits on Lokayukta first report on illegal mining

Indicted officials go scot-free

BSY sits on Lokayukta first report on illegal mining

The Lokayukta, who has prepared a damning indictment of the chief minister on the mining scam, had named 11 officers, including six IAS officials, in the first report. While  five officers continue to hold prime posts, six of them have already retired from service.
The IAS officers who were indicted and now continue to hold prime positions are V Umesh, Mahendra Jain, I R Per­umal and Gangaram Baderiya.

These officers held office under the Department of Commerce and Industries. The Lokayukta report was prepared by a team of officials headed by former deputy director of Mines and Minerals R L Gaikwad.  Former IPS officer Jija Hari Singh, who was accused of causing huge losses to the exchequer when she was the managing director of Mysore Minerals Limited, got reprieve by moving the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). The tribunal had observed that the report was not free from arbitrariness and thus held no legal validity.

The report was quashed on April 1, 2010.

Later, the government with a view to taking action against the officers decided to challenge the order in the High Court.

File still pending

The officers who were supposed to take action as per the Lokayukta report sent a file nine months ago seeking the chief minister’s permission to allow them to challenge the CAT order in the High Court. The file is still pending with the chief minister, according to official sources.

Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli had also advised the government to challenge the CAT order in the High Court, so that the government can initiate action against the officers.

When Deccan Herald made enquiries at the government secretariat, officers said that they are still awaiting the chief minister’s consent.

Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde had recommended that losses be recovered and disciplinary action be initiated against 11 officers under Section 12 (3) of the Karnataka Lokayukta Act and All India Services (Disciplinary and Appeal) Rules, 1969.

The government should have examined the report and in three months, intimated the action taken or proposed to be taken on the basis of the report.

Probe trail

So far, a departmental enquiry has been initiated against Gangaram Baderiya, Shankarlingaiaha, deputy general manager, MML, Basappa Reddy, who was director of the Department of Mines and Geology.

In the case of Basappa Reddy, the probe began based on the direction of the U L Bhat Commission, which was probing the mining scam before the government handed over the matter to Lokayukta. Reddy had retired from the service by the time the government dismissed him, following which his retirement benefits were impounded.

Jija Hari Singh, now retired from service, was exonerated by the CAT after she filed an application challenging the showcause notice issued to her. The order of the CAT comprising Dr K B Suresh and Leena Mahendale stated, “It is unfortunate the Lokayukta submitted its report without examining the fact that Gaikwad had deliberately or through ignorance quoted that the State’s exchequer had suffered great losses through MML,  which is fictional.

“The report is not free from unreasonableness and arbitrariness. So far as the applicant is concerned, it will have no legal validity or concern or juncture. The showcause notice has been issued without any jurisdiction and the findings have no foundational basis. This may be applicable to others as well. The report is hereby quashed.”

As the government was preparing ground to question the CAT order, Jija approached Governor H R Bhardwaj last year, requesting him to direct the government to accept the order.The Governor on April 30, 2010,  directed the government that the matter should be considered as closed following the CAT order. 

“I find factually it is admitted that during her tenure as managing director of the company, the company did rather well and it would be unfair to impute that losses were incurred on account of her. The matter stands quashed by CAT. It is expedient in the interest of justice and fair play that there should be no continued harassment to the senior lady IPS officer.

 In the background of the decision of CAT, the logical conclusion is that this matter is closed,” he stated.

Officials, besides quoting the CAT order for not taking action against the officers, are also using the governor’s order as an excuse for not furthering the process. Santosh Hegde, in the second report, has indicted over 600 officials.