SC stays probe against 3 officials in Karnataka mining row

SC stays probe against 3 officials in Karnataka mining row

The Supreme Court today stayed a Lokayukta police probe into the roles of IAS officer D S Aswath and two other officials in a case of alleged illegal mining in Karnataka, involving External Affairs Minister S M Krishna.

While staying the probe against the three, a bench of justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar sought the state government's replies to their pleas within four weeks and tagged the matter for further hearing with Krishna's petition on March 30.

The cases against Krishna and others related to an FIR registered against them in the case of alleged illegal mining, dating back to Union minister's tenure as Karnataka chief minister.

The apex court had on January 27 stayed the proceedings on the FIR against Krishna on his plea, observing that the case "was too premature."

"We are inclined to stay the proceedings. Accordingly, the proceedings arising out of the FIR on the issue ordered by the Karnataka Lokayukta will remain stayed," the apex court had said earlier on Krishna's plea, challenging the January 20 order of the Karnataka High Court, which had refused to give him the relief.

The bench had said the probe ordered by the Lokayukta court was "premature" as the proceedings before the ombudsman was "incomplete" on account of the failure of the submission of the supplementary report.

The bench, which had issued a notice and sought response within three weeks from Karnataka government and the complainant, on whose plea the FIR was registered, also said "we are all anxious that truth should come out".

The proceedings by a Special Lokayukta Court was initiated on December 8 last on a private complaint against him.

Krishna had challenged the Lokayukta court's order in the high court which had on December 15 last stayed the FIR against him.

A social activist T J Abraham had filed a complaint against Krishna and former chief ministers H D Kumaraswamy and N Dharam Singh seeking action against them for allegedly facilitating illegal mining.

The S M Krishna Cabinet's decision of dereserving forest for mining had also reached the Karnataka High Court in 2003 as an advocate had filed a PIL challenging it.

It was dismissed on July 18, 2004 on the ground that there was no public interest involved in the petition.

The court had then held that the petitioner has not been able to show that the government has no power to issue such notification.