SC stays probe against Krishna

Bench questions locus standi of complainant in the matter

SC stays probe against Krishna

The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the probe against External Affairs Minister S M Krishna for allegedly allowing illegal mining in forest areas during his tenure as chief minister of Karnataka, terming the Lokayukta proceedings as “premature”.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and Gyan Sudha Mishra also questioned the locus standi of the complainant in the matter.

The court issued notices to the State government and T J Abraham, who had filed a private complaint against former Karnataka chief ministers Krishna, H D Kumaraswamy and N Dharam Singh, seeking action against them for allegedly facilitating illegal mining.

The proceedings initiated on the basis of Lokayukta report are “premature” as another report was to be submitted identifying the officials responsible for allowing de-reserving over 11,000 square km forest area for mining purpose, the Bench said.

“Apart from that, we are also concerned about the locus standi of the complainant,” the court added.

The court stayed the proceedings and sought response from the State government on Krishna’s plea within three weeks.

Krishna had on January 24 approached the apex court challenging the Karnataka High Court’s order allowing Lokayukta probe against him for the alleged illegal mining during his chief ministership between 1999 and 2004. He had claimed that the de-reservation of the forest mineral wealth was carried out as per the mineral policy of the Central government.

During the proceedings, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the complainant, tried to convince the Bench by referring to a report submitted by then Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde.

The Lokayukta report stated as to how the decision to allow 11,000 square km of forest land to be de-reserved was taken to benefit a select few individuals.

But the court seemed unimpressed with his arguments as it asked the counsel to explain how the petitioner (Krishna) seemed to have been involved into it.

As Bhushan tried to answer the query by submitting that Lokayukta was to come out with a second report identifying the officials responsible for it, the court asked, “Don’t you think that it is premature? If the Lokayukta is to further probe the matter, let it do it.”

To this, the counsel told the Bench that the Lokayukta had already submitted its second report but it did not deal with the subject.

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