Ensure fair trial

Ensure fair trial

The govt should facilitate a fair inquiry.

B S Yeddyurappa’s hopes of reclaiming the chief minister’s chair before the present Assembly completes its term in little less than a year, appear to have been dashed to the ground with the Supreme Court on Friday accepting the recommendation of the central empowered committee (CEC) for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the allegations of corruption against the former chief minister and his family members. While the court specifically ordered investigation into denotification of a piece of land by Yeddyurappa to benefit his relatives, and the donations received by a trust run by them from mining companies, the probe will also include the disappearance of 5 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore from Belekeri port, which will open a further can of worms regarding illegal mining in Karnataka. As the CBI has already ensnarled mining baron and former minister Gali Janardhana Reddy in the illegal mining investigation in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh -- and Reddy allegedly operated under the patronage of Yeddyurappa for nearly three years -- the linkages of the scam could hurt the former chief minister even more and possibly lead to widening of the inquiry.

Ever since he was forced to step down as chief minister in August 2011 following the Lokyaukta report into rampant illegal mining in the state, Yeddyurappa has been pressuring the BJP to reinstate him, but there was no way the party could do so unless he had his name cleared. Yeddyurappa saw a ray of hope when the Karnataka high court quashed one of the inquiries against him. He and his supporters even demanded that chief minister Sadananda Gowda vacate the seat for him, but the Supreme Court order has now put paid to his dreams.

There is some merit in Yeddyurappa’s contention that some of his predecessors had opened the floodgates of illegal mining and he alone should not be made a ‘victim.’ In fact, there are cases pending against former chief ministers S M Krishna and H D Kumaraswamy for their alleged roles in the denotification of forests and other lands and they too will be facing judicial scrutiny. The government should make sure that all the records required are made available to the CBI and the relevant courts so that the guilty persons, whether politicians or bureaucrats involved in illegal actions, are brought to book. Overall, the cases should serve the purpose of ensuring, as the Supreme Court has said, that the Rule of Law prevails over the abuse of the process of law.

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